Look What Happens When You Close A ‘Good Nuclear Deal’ With A Rogue State

More than 20 years ago, on October 21, 1994, President Bill Clinton announced that the United States had reached a Framework Agreement with North Korea on its nuclear program. Clinton assured the American public that it was a “good deal.”

You can watch Clinton’s statement here:

“This agreement is good for the United States, good for our allies, and good for the safety of the entire world. It reduces the danger of the threat of nuclear spreading in the region. It’s a crucial step toward drawing North Korea into the global community,” Clinton said.

Sound familiar? Obama used similar language when he announced the Framework Agreement with Iran earlier this month.

We all know what happened with Clinton’s “good” deal. On April 23-25, 2003, during trilateral talks in Beijing, North Korea told the U.S. delegation that it possessed nuclear weapons. This constituted the first time that Pyongyang made such an admission. More than two years later, on October 9, 2006, North Korea conducted an underground nuclear test near the village of P’unggye.

Last night, news broke that Chinese nuclear experts have informed their American counterparts they have increased their estimates of North Korea’s nuclear weapons production well beyond most previous U.S. figures. They now suggest Pyongyang can make enough warheads to threaten regional security for the U.S. and its allies.

Wall Street Journal reporters Jeremy Page and Jay Solomon reported that China had informed U.S. nuclear specialists that North Korea will have 40 nuclear warheads by the end of 2016 and potentially over 75 by the end of the decade. North Korean engineers have apparently miniaturized them and can mount them on their KN-08 long-range missiles, which can reach California.

The news has alarmed U.S. lawmakers, who say that it must have implications for the current talks with Iran about its nuclear program. Republican lawmakers said the pending deal with Iran could mirror the 1994 nuclear agreement with North Korea.

“We saw how North Korea was able to game this whole process,” Ed Royce, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said in an interview. “I wouldn’t be surprised if Iran had its hands on the same playbook.”

In fact, it goes further than Iran having its hands on the same playbook.

In every meaningful sense, the North Korean nuclear program is an Iranian nuclear program, albeit beyond Iran’s territorial borders. The Iranians pay for the program. The Iranians receive knowledge and technology from the program. The Iranians are on hand to observe every major nuclear and missile test.

But there is more.

Take, for example, the parallels between the deal with North Korea and the current negotiations with Iran. The Agreed Framework with North Korea was negotiated by Wendy Sherman, and the Iran deal is being negotiated by the same Wendy Sherman. The Agreed Framework lasted a decade, and the Iran deal is slated to last a decade. The agreement with North Korea relied on IAEA verification, and the Iran deal relies on IAEA verification.

But now, the North Koreans have a full-blown nuclear arsenal that the Americans didn’t even know about. U.S. officials reportedly expressed surprise when they were briefed on the Chinese information.

Defiant Iranian Statements

Meanwhile, Iran continues to issue defiant statements about the Framework Agreement with the six world powers and the current negotiations about a final agreement.

A top Iranian commander said Iran will never permit inspection of its military sites.

“Not only will we not grant foreigners the permission to inspect our military sites, we will not even give them permission to think about such a subject,” the Fars News Agency quoted Brigadier General Hossein Salami, the second-in-command of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), as saying on a live television broadcast last Saturday.

“They will not even be permitted to inspect the most normal military site in their dreams,” he added.

He also said that a harsh response awaits anyone who talks about such inspections.

“Visiting a military base by a foreign inspector would mean the occupation of our land because all our defense secrets are there. Even talking about the subject means national humiliation,” he added.

Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, said that U.S. officials should “stop their silly demands from Iran.”

Fars News reported that Khamenei blasted the US and Europeans and their “puppet regimes’” media hype and allegations that Iran had sought to acquire nuclear weapons, and said: “Today, the most vital threat posed to the world and the region is the US and the Zionist regime which meddle (with other nations’ affairs) and kill people anywhere they deem to be necessary without any control or commitment to conscience or religious principles.”

Ali Akbar Velayati, Khamenei’s top adviser for international affairs, demanded again that sanctions imposed on Iran should be immediately lifted when an agreement is signed, not when Iran’s compliance with the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) demands is certified.

The IAEA reported earlier that no significant progress had been made in the talks with Iran about access for inspectors to military sites.

During a military parade on Army Day in Iran last Saturday, a truck carrying a massive banner reading “Death to Israel.” was seen. A televised broadcast of the parade was punctuated by repeated cries of “Death to America” and “Death to Israel.”

Warnings to Obama

Dr. Mahmoud Moradkhani, an Iranian expat and a nephew of Ayatollah Khamenei, wrote an open letter to President Obama in which he warned not to trust the Iranian regime. He told Obama that Khamenei is lying in negotiations, practicing the Shia doctrine of taqiyya in which it is permissible for Muslims to lie to the infidel for the advancement of Islam, and asked the President not to pursue his nuclear deal with the regime but to focus on Iran’s expansion policies and abysmal human rights record. Moradkhani is the son of Sheikh Ali Teherani, who married Khamenei’s sister.

Former U.S. Secretary of State James Baker joined George Schultz and Henry Kissinger in demanding a much better deal with Iran. In an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, he wrote that the current Framework Agreement “needs lots of work.”

“Our P5+1 partners should understand that if we can’t trust Iran to stick to its promises during negotiations, we cannot trust that it won’t resume its nuclear-weapons program after a final deal is reached.

“Only after we have the necessary support from the P5+1 should we resume our discussions with Iran. And then, only after the Iranians have been told in no uncertain terms that we have reasonable specific demands they must meet. Let Iran and the world know what those demands are. If Iran balks at such an arrangement, then it will be that country’s fault that the talks broke down,” Baker wrote.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

US Sending Mixed Messages As Iranian Warships Arrive Near Yemen

A potential showdown at sea, the likes of which has not been seen since John Kennedy ordered the naval blockade of Cuba in 1962, is shaping up off the coast of Yemen.

Earlier this week, the Obama Administration deployed warships off the southern coast of Yemen. One of the stated purposes has been to keep shipping lanes open in the region, including through the strategic Bab-el-Mandeb Strait, which connects the Gulf of Aden with the Red Sea. The strait is only 18 miles wide at its narrowest point.

Creative Commons/Bab el Mandeb NASA

Creative Commons/Bab el Mandeb Strait/NASA

According to Iranian state-sponsored media, the Middle Eastern nation has sent nine ships to the region to “protect the country’s cargo ships and oil tankers against pirates.” Iranian Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari stated that “no one can warn the Iranian warships (to move away) and this has not happened yet.” The flotilla includes a destroyer and a helicopter-carrying vessel.

Pentagon spokesman Col Steve Warren told CNN that the Iranian convoy is made up of cargo vessels, leading some to believe the ships are carrying weapons to resupply the Shiite Houthi rebels fighting to gain control of Yemen.

President Barack Obama told MSNBC that the United States has been clear to Tehran about not supplying weapons to the Houthis.

“What we’ve said to them is if there are weapons delivered to factions within Yemen that could threaten navigation, that’s a problem,” Obama said. “We’re not sending them obscure messages, we send them very direct messages about it,” he added.

Meanwhile, State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said, “I want to be very clear just so that no one has the wrong impression. They are not there to intercept Iranian ships. The purpose of moving them is only to ensure that the shipping lanes remain open and safe.”

However, Pentagon officials, speaking on a condition of anonymity, told the Associated Press Monday that the U.S. warships were being sent specifically to block the Iranian vessels from delivering supplies.

Asked to clarify the U.S. Navy’s mission in the region, White House Communications Director Jen Psaki reiterated to Fox News Wednesday that keeping shipping lanes open is the primary mission of the U.S. Navy operating off the Yemeni coast; she said that “We have a range of abilities” if the Iranians seek to deliver war supplies to the Houthi rebels. “We are hoping this can de-escalate,” she added.

The carrier U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt, and the guided missile cruiser the U.S.S. Normandy, are among the nine warships the U.S. has deployed to the region.

The U.S. Navy does not have authority to board Iranian ships operating in international waters.

h/t: Free Beacon

Do you think the U.S. should be seeking a nuclear agreement with Iran while it wreaks havoc throughout the region? 

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

American Double Standards On Display In Ukraine

Last week, two prominent Ukrainian opposition figures were gunned down in broad daylight. They join as many as ten others who have been killed or committed suicide under suspicious circumstances just this year. These individuals have one important thing in common: they were either part of or friendly with the Yanukovych government, which a US-backed coup overthrew last year. They include members of the Ukrainian parliament and former chief editors of major opposition newspapers.

While some journalists here in the U.S. have started to notice the strange series of opposition killings in Ukraine, the U.S. government has yet to say a word.

Compare this to the U.S. reaction when a single opposition figure was killed in Russia earlier this year. Boris Nemtsov was a member of a minor political party that was not even represented in the Russian parliament. Nevertheless, the U.S. government immediately demanded that Russia conduct a thorough investigation of his murder, suggesting the killers had a political motive.

As news of the Russian killing broke, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Ed Royce (R-CA) did not wait for evidence to blame the killing on Russian president Vladimir Putin. On the very day of Nemtsov’s murder, Royce told the US media that, “this shocking murder is the latest assault on those who dare to oppose the Putin regime.”

Neither Royce, nor Secretary of State John Kerry, nor President Obama, nor any U.S. government figure has said a word about the series of apparently political murders in Ukraine.

On the contrary, instead of questioning the state of democracy in what looks like a lawless Ukraine, the Administration is sending in the U.S. military to help train Ukrainian troops!

Last week, just as the two political murders were taking place, the U.S. 173rd Airborne Brigade landed in Ukraine to begin training Ukrainian national guard forces — and to leave behind some useful military equipment. Though the civil unrest continues in Ukraine, the U.S. military is assisting one side in the conflict — even as the U.S. slaps sanctions on Russia over accusations it is helping out the other side!

As the ceasefire continues to hold, though shakily, what kind of message does it send to the US-backed government in Kiev to have U.S. troops arrive with training and equipment and an authorization to gift Kiev with some $350 million in weapons? Might they not take this as a green light to begin new hostilities against the breakaway regions in the east?

The Obama administration is so inconsistent in its foreign policy. In some places, particularly Cuba and Iran, the administration is pursuing a policy that looks to diplomacy and compromise to help improve decades of bad relations. In these two cases, the administration realizes that the path of confrontation has led nowhere. When the president announced his desire to see the end of Cuba sanctions, he stated very correctly that, “…we are ending a policy that was long past its expiration date. When what you’re doing doesn’t work for fifty years, it’s time to try something new.”

So while Obama is correctly talking about sanctions relief for Iran and Cuba, he is adding more sanctions on Russia, backing Saudi Arabia’s brutal attack on Yemen, and pushing ever harder for regime change in Syria. Does he really believe the rest of the world does not see these double standards? A wise consistency of non-interventionism in all foreign affairs would be the correct course for this and future US administrations. Let us hope they will eventually follow Obama’s observation that, “it’s time to try something new.”

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

Barack Obama, President Of Iran? That’s What This News Channel Just Claimed…

Israel’s Channel 2 News accidentally labeled Barack Obama the president of Iran with an on-screen ID tag on Saturday night.

The mistake happened while the network reported on a press conference given by the United States’ Commander-in-Chief.

The unintended error (or Freudian slip) comes at a time when relations between Israel and the United States have reached a low not seen in decades.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has not been shy in voicing his opposition to the Iran nuclear arms deal, fearing that it will place his country’s security in jeopardy. Twice, the tiny nation, surrounded by countries that seeks its demise, has struck nuclear facilities believed to be used for developing nuclear weapons in Iraq and Syria.

The Israeli prime minister has indicated that his nation would do so again if Iran’s acquisition of a nuclear weapon appeared imminent.

President Obama appears to be willing to give Iran most of the concessions it has sought in the ongoing negotiations regarding the future of its nuclear program, including the ability to keep its uranium enrichment facilities operational; and the president even hinted over the weekend that the U.S. will immediately lift economic sanctions against Iran after the nuclear arms deal is signed.

The president said, “Our main concern here is making sure that if Iran doesn’t abide by its agreement that we don’t have to jump through a whole bunch of hoops in order to reinstate sanctions.” He added: “It will require some creative negotiations. I’m confident it will be successful.”

Earlier this month, the Obama Administration released the details of a framework for a nuclear agreement indicating that the lifting of sanctions would be in stages, contingent on Iranian compliance with the terms. Iran’s chief negotiator immediately took to Twitter to counter the administration’s claims.

One supposes we will have to forgive Channel 2 News for mistaking which country Barack Obama is representing at the moment.

h/t: Times of Israel 

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

Here Is What Israeli Journalists And Middle East Experts Think About Obama’s Mideast Policies

Much has been said about the supposed damage done to U.S.-Israel relations by Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu. But what about the damage done by President Obama to America’s relationship with the people of Israel?

In 2010, a poll commissioned by The Jerusalem Post showed that only 9 percent of Jewish Israelis believed that the Obama administration was more pro-Israel than pro-Palestinian.

In February 2014, the Israeli weekly Sof HaShavuah published a poll that showed 70 percent of Israelis did not trust President Obama to safeguard Israel’s vital security interests. At the same time, only one in five Israelis was confident that Obama would prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.

But that was one year ago before the administration blamed Israel for the failed negotiations with the Palestinians and before Obama decided to sign a framework agreement with Iran on its nuclear program.

The best word that describes the overall feeling of Israelis towards the policies of the U.S. government in the Middle East today is shock. Even seasoned journalists are not able to hide their disbelief and shock anymore in light of the actions and statements of the U.S. President.

Last weekend, Channel 10’s News Show broadcasted a report about Obama’s emphatic statement on Putin’s decision to sell the S-300 missile system to Iran. The Times of Israel reported that diplomatic commentator Ben Caspit had said “Jaws dropped” around the studio when the news broke about Obama’s remarks.

“Obama is something else,” Caspit added. “He’s decided to take America out of the wars…”

The station’s news anchor, Alon Ben-David, chipped in: “He’s amazed that the Russians honored an agreement with him (for this long)? That’s what is astonishing.”

Caspit responded: “This is the new America. We had better get used to it.”

On Saturday, Channel 2 broadcasted a report about Obama while an on-screen ID tag described him as the president of Iran. The Times of Israel thought it was a typo, but it’s hard to believe that the editor of Channel 2 News would make such a mistake since Iran and the United States are two totally different words in Hebrew.

Obama’s policies are not only criticized by right-wing commentators such as Caroline Glick, Sarah Honig, and Martin Sherman of The Jerusalem Post, but also by others.

Even star-reporter Ari Shavit of the leftist paper Ha’aretz has ridiculed Obama’s policies on Iran.

Here’s what Shavit wrote in the Hebrew version of Ha’aretz:

The dispassionate man from Chicago is proving every day what rare stuff he’s made of. The president sees how the Iranians mock him – and does nothing. He sees radical Islam approaching the nuclear brink and does not budge. With amazing courage, Barack Obama watches the tsunami rolling toward America’s shores and smiles.

He is staging a deceptive show of a deal with the Iranians, which will seem to dull the threat. He is trying to make a fool of Jerusalem as Tehran is making a fool of him. The president is pushing Israel into a corner but is hoping that Israel will accept its fate submissively Never has the United States had such a gambler for a president.

Shavit sounded a lot like Caroline Glick, who wrote this about Obama’s policies: “His goal is not to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power…The goal of Obama’s foreign policy is to weaken the State of Israel.”

Journalists and politicians are not the only ones in Israel who criticize Obama’s Middle East policies. Let’s examine what renowned Israeli academics say about the President.

The late Professor Barry Rubin, who was arguably one of the most outstanding Middle East experts of our time, predicted that things would get worse in U.S. Israel relations. Here’s what he wrote a few months before he passed away:

 ISRAEL CANNOT DEPEND ON THE UNITED STATES.

That doesn’t mean that Obama and others will not provide military aid or say nice words at every event. But there is no commitment – that one can assume would be fulfilled – nor any Israeli initiative that will really be implemented.

This is a complex issue, but here are some brief points:

The idea that Obama and his team are the greatest friends of Israel is a deadly insult, and I can prove it two minutes.

The United States has undermined Israel on many issues. Do I have to provide a list?

Okay, here is a partial list: Egypt (support for a hostile Muslim Brotherhood government); Tunisia (ditto); Sinai  (enablement of insurgency); Hamas (the desire to keep the Brotherhood–an ally of Hamas–government in power in Cairo); Turkey (supporting the Islamist, anti-Israel government); Syria (support of radical Syrian Islamists); Europe (lack of support for Israeli position on peace process); America itself (encouragement of anti-Israel forces among Jewish community and in Obama constituency); Palestinians (lack of criticism or pressure on Palestinian Authority, PA).

Another Middle East expert who is critical of current White House policies in the Middle East is Dr. Mordechai Kedar. He said on U.S. television that the administration didn’t understand the Middle East and said, regarding current U.S. policies towards Iran, that “America is stabbing Israel and its Arab allies in the back.”

David Rubin, a U.S.-born Israeli author and expert on the Middle East, put it this way: “President Obama is very harmful to Israel and very dangerous for the future of Judeo-Christian civilization.”

Arab-Israeli Middle East expert Bassam Tawil wrote a couple of weeks ago that Obama has declared war on Israel:

Thanks to Obama’s policies, the Iranians and their friends are now in control of Iraq, Yemen, Syria and Lebanon, and much of Bahrain and have surrounded the oilfields of the Persian Gulf. Meanwhile, the U.S. has been forced to close down its embassies in three Arab countries — Syria, Libya, and Yemen.

Instead of facing the dangers of the Iranian drive to export the Islamic revolution to as many Arab and Islamic countries as possible — with the help of an accelerating operation to acquire nuclear weapons — Obama has turned Israel in general, and Netanyahu, in particular, into the main threat to world peace and stability.”

The most outspoken criticism about Obama’s Middle East policies from an Israeli academic came from Professor Dan Shuftan. He said during a lecture, in which he gave an accurate analysis of Israel’s current position in the world, that “Obama is absolutely clueless about the Middle East”.

“ Obama is a good guy in the bad sense of the term,” Shuftan said. “If I were to be commissioned to write a book about what not to do in the Middle East Obama would sue me for plagiarism. I can’t think of one move (of Obama) that was not unbelievable dumb in terms of American interests, forget Israeli interests,” Shuftan added.

The fragment with Shuftan’s remarks about Obama starts after 14.30 minutes, but we recommend watching the whole lecture.

Are there still Israeli academics who view the Obama administration’s Middle East policies in a favorable light? Yes, there are.

On Monday, The Jerusalem Post published an op-ed written by Hebrew University Professor Eli Podeh. He recommended applying the Obama doctrine for Iran and other Pariah states to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Although he acknowledged that the Obama doctrine of engagement with regards to Iran and other pariah states could be based on wishful thinking, he thought it was even more applicable to the Israeli-Palestinian case.

A self-confident Israel, with a defense budget amounting to NIS 57b., is a superpower in comparison to the approximately $1b. budget of the Palestinian Authority (the figures for Hamas are more problematic although there is obviously a wide gap here as well). According to the Obama Doctrine, such a gap allows Israel to take risks and offer some substantial concessions concerning the occupied territories. Israel’s consistent argument that it does not have the luxury to test this proposition is disingenuous because its military might could easily undo whatever has been conceded.

Moreover, an agreement with the Palestinians would be supported by security guarantees provided by the United States, the European Community and perhaps other parties in the region, which would help deter Israel’s potential enemies.”

It is clear that Podeh still thinks that a peace agreement with the Palestinians is possible and that, if the Israeli government sticks to its current policy vis a vis the Palestinians, Obama should force his vision for solving the conflict upon Israel.

Shuftan seems to be more realistic when he said that peace has disappeared from the vocabulary of the Israelis–and even of the Israeli left.

“Israelis know where they live and know that peace is not an option,” the Haifa University Professor told his audience in the United Kingdom. He even predicted that Israel will stay in a state of war for another 140 years.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth