“I am Yahweh; that is My Name! I will not give My glory to anyone else, nor share My praise with carved idols.” (Isaiah 42: 8)
The Iran Nuclear Deal: Telling a Story with News Headlines
You can tell a story by lining up news headlines. That’s what I have done below:
When President Barack Obama announced the “one-time gesture” of releasing Iranian-born prisoners who “were not charged with terrorism or any violent offenses” last year, his administration presented the move as a modest trade-off for the greater good of the Iran nuclear agreement and Tehran’s pledge to free five Americans.
“Iran had a significantly higher number of individuals, of course, at the beginning of this negotiation that they would have liked to have seen released,” one senior Obama administration official told reporters in a background briefing arranged by the White House, adding that “we were able to winnow that down to these seven individuals, six of whom are Iranian-Americans.”
But Obama, the senior official and other administration representatives weren’t telling the whole story on Jan. 17, 2016, in their highly choreographed rollout of the prisoner swap and simultaneous implementation of the six-party nuclear deal, according to a POLITICO investigation.
In his Sunday morning address to the American people, Obama portrayed the seven men he freed as “civilians.” The senior official described them as businessmen convicted of or awaiting trial for mere “sanctions-related offenses, violations of the trade embargo.”
In reality, some of them were accused by Obama’s own Justice Department of posing threats to national security. Three allegedly were part of an illegal procurement network supplying Iran with U.S.-made microelectronics with applications in surface-to-air and cruise missiles like the kind Tehran test-fired recently, prompting a still-escalating exchange of threats with the Trump administration. Another was serving an eight-year sentence for conspiring to supply Iran with satellite technology and hardware. As part of the deal, U.S. officials even dropped their demand for $10 million that a jury said the aerospace engineer illegally received from Tehran.
Iran has drastically increased financial support for its Lebanese-based terrorist proxy Hezbollah since the Iran nuclear deal was signed two years ago, the Jerusalem Post reports.
Iran secured $100 billion in frozen assets and sanction relief in January 2016 as a result of the deal with the United States and European countries. Flush with cash, Iran immediately increased its support for terrorist proxies in the region — and nefarious activities worldwide. Hezbollah was receiving $200 million from Iran before the nuclear deal. Now, it’s reportedly $800 million.
Last month, Hamas terrorist leader Yahya Sinwar admitted that “relations with Iran are excellent and Iran is the largest supporter of the [Hamas military wing] Izz el-Deen al-Qassam Brigades with money and arms.” Iran reportedly provides Hamas with about $60-$70 million a year.
Both Hezbollah and Hamas remain dedicated to Israel’s destruction, and continue to invest considerable resources to fight the Jewish state. Iran also spends hundreds of millions of dollars on Shiite militias in Syria and Iraq, while increasing support for Houthi militants in Yemen.
Shortly after the July 2015 nuclear deal was signed, Iran expanded its presence in regional conflicts, and even increased its own intervention in Syria’s civil war, leading to mounting Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) casualties.
Iran also increased its efforts to subvert its neighbors. In March, Bahrain security authorities arrested members of an Iranian-sponsored terrorist cell, accusing them of planning to assassinate senior government officials. The IRGC reportedly provided military training to several o the cell members.
On Sunday, the director of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Yukiya Amano, arrived in Iran for talks on the nuclear agreement, as part of what appears to be an attempt by the UN nuclear watchdog to evaluate whether Iran ran a military nuclear program in the past.
Amano is expected to meet with various Iranian nuclear scientists for answers on this very subject. On December 15, ahead of the lifting of crippling economic sanctions on Tehran, he is slated to present the world with definitive answers that will determine whether Iran complied with the terms of a nuclear deal signed on July 15. But the Islamic Republic is not waiting for a green light from Amano or the international community, and is working under the assumption that the sanctions will be lifted.
Since the deal was signed, Iran has significantly increased its financial support for two of the largest terror groups in the region that have become political players, Hamas and Hezbollah. In the years before the deal was signed, the crippling sanctions limited this support, which had significantly diminished along with Iran’s economy. But Tehran’s belief that tens, or hundreds, of billions of dollars will flow into the country in the coming years as a result of sanctions relief has led to a decision to boost the cash flow to these terror organizations.
This support, for example, has enabled Hezbollah to obtain highly developed new armaments, including advanced technologies that many militaries around the world would envy. Al-Rai, a Kuwaiti newspaper, reported Saturday that Hezbollah has received all the advanced weaponry that Syria has obtained from the Russians. The report cited a security source involved in the fighting in Zabadani, on the Syria-Lebanon border, where Hezbollah is fighting the al-Nusra Front, the Islamic State, and other groups. It is evidently the growing Iranian financial support that is enabling the Lebanese Shiite militia to purchase advanced weapons, including ones that were hitherto outside of its reach.
The framework nuclear agreement between Iran and world powers will give Tehran a stronger role in the region, Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah said Monday, adding that the Islamic Republic would be better positioned to support “Palestinian resistance.”
The head of the terror group also defended his decision to strike Israel from Lebanese territory in a retaliatory attack in January, saying the move was meant to signal a change in the rules of engagement.
“Iran will become richer and wealthier and will also become more influential” under the deal reached last week, Nasrallah said in a wide ranging live interview to Syria’s state-run Al-Ikhbariya TV, according to a translation provided by Beirut news outlet The Daily Star. “This will also reinforce the position of its allies.”
“A stronger and wealthier Iran, in the coming phase, will be able to stand by its allies, and especially the Palestinian resistance, more than at any other time in history,” he added.
The Shiite Hezbollah terror group is considered an Iranian proxy. The organization has been fingered for terror attacks against Israeli targets around the world that have also been linked to Tehran over the past decades.
Lebanese Hezbollah operating in concert with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps is crucial to the survival of the Bashar al-Assad regime. At the same time, Hezbollah is facing multi-front wars against Israel and an array of opponents both inside and outside of Lebanon. This article explores Hezbollah’s calculations and behavior after the Iran nuclear deal. While Hezbollah is overstretched and under stress, its leadership is still prepared for the next major military confrontation with Israel. This coming conflict and Hezbollah’s use of terrorism will be determined by Iranian hardliners and by Israel’s targeted actions against Hezbollah’s security operatives.
Sir Mark Allen, a former senior British MI6 officer, said at the outset of the Syrian civil war: “Understanding Syria and Lebanon is like playing three-dimensional chess underwater with all the pieces moving simultaneously.” This “many moving parts” analogy explains perfectly Hezbollah’s complex behavior. It fits with the closely embedded, patron relationship Hezbollah has maintained with Syria and Iran since its foundation in 1982. It also fits with the complexity of Hezbollah’s multi-front wars—propping up the Syrian regime through close cooperation with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), battling against Sunni jihadi groups in Lebanon and in Syria, and preparing for a major war against Israel. Simultaneously, Hezbollah’s terror architecture is closely intertwined with Ayatollah Khamenei and his agenda. Operationally, Hezbollah also functions closely with the IRGC-Qods Force and the Iranian intelligence service MOIS in the execution of terror.
Since 2012, Iran (with Hezbollah) and Israel have been locked in a shadowy intelligence war, which has led to a campaign of terror and reciprocal assassinations around the world. Some of Hezbollah’s most important operational cadres have been targeted by Israeli assassination efforts. These same operatives have been targeted by financial sanctions from Washington. At the same time, Hezbollah operatives have been arrested for plotting several terror attacks against Israeli targets. This article will examine how the recent nuclear deal with Iran has affected Hezbollah and its leadership’s calculations.
Decertifying the nuclear deal with Iran is the first step toward fixing its severe deficiencies that place Iran on a North Korean-style glide path to developing nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles.
Decertification is the first part of a strategy to “decertify, pressure and fix.” A 2015 law requires the president to certify to Congress every 90 days not just that Iran is fully implementing the nuclear deal, but also that the suspension of sanctions remains vital to U.S. national security interests.
The problem is that the deal’s restrictions will start to expire in a few years because of multiple “sunset” clauses. Iranian leaders repeatedly threaten to deny United Nations inspectors access to the types of military sites where Tehran once conducted secret nuclear weapons work. Meanwhile, the regime is testing nuclear-capable missiles and receiving tens of billions of dollars in sanctions relief to fund foreign aggression and internal repression.
Top diplomats from Germany, Russia, China and Italy insisted Thursday there can be no turning back on the Iran nuclear deal after President Donald Trump suggested that he may seek a renegotiation or simply walk away from the pact.
“How are we going to convince countries like North Korea that international agreements provide them with security — and in so doing make them commit to future disarmament efforts — if the only international example for such an endeavor being successful, the agreement with Iran, no longer has effect?” asked Germany’s Vice Chancellor and Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, addressing the U.N. General Assembly.
Italy’s U.N. Ambassador Sebastiano Cardi said after a Security Council meeting that the escalating situation with North Korea should serve as a cautionary tale for not abandoning the Iran deal. “When you see the DPRK proliferation issue, which is not controlled of course because (it is) a rogue state, and then you have the kind of controlled agreement on Iran, that is the way to go.” DPRK is an acronym for North Korea’s official name.
Russia’s top diplomat, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, in his address, called the Iran deal one of the “more important factors of regional and international security” today. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi also reiterated support. No agreement is perfect, he said, but if the accord is discarded, the entire non-proliferation system would suffer, the Xinhua news agency reported.
European diplomats warned the Trump administration on Monday that Europe is prepared to block U.S. efforts to reimpose international sanctions against Iran as long as Tehran continues to comply with its obligations under the nuclear deal.
If the U.S. pulls out of the nuclear agreement ― known as the JCPOA ― and reapplies sanctions that target not only Iran, but other countries who do business with Iran, the European Union could take advantage of a statute dating back to the mid-1990s that would protect European companies from being penalized under the sanctions, EU ambassador to the United States David O’Sullivan said Monday.
“We have the blocking statute … which does offer legal protection to European companies which are threatened by the extraterritorial nature of U.S. sanctions in certain circumstances, Sullivan said, speaking at the Atlantic Center alongside French, British and German ambassadors. “I have no doubt that if this scenario materializes, which it’s not clear it will, the European Union will act to protect the legitimate interests of our companies with all the means at our disposal.”
In reality, what does the Iran nuclear deal do?
The Iran nuclear deal opened the door for Iran to advance its agenda, particularly its goal of annihilating Israel.
In other words, the Iran nuclear deal makes the U.S. complicit in Iran’s plans.
There is no other reasonable way to interpret the facts.
“The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me. Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.” (John 17: 22-24)
See “His Name is Yahweh”.