The JCPOA can perhaps delay Iran’s nuclear weapons program for a few years. Conversely, it has virtually guaranteed that Iran will have the freedom to build an arsenal of nuclear weapons at the end of the commitment. – Mike Pompeo, Director, Central Intelligence Agency
CNSNews.com reports that
Iran pledged Tuesday to retaliate after the Trump administration coupled its certification of the regime’s conduct with regard to the nuclear deal with new sanctions targeting the ballistic missile program and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
Calling the new measures “contemptible and worthless,” the foreign ministry said Iran would respond by imposing sanctions against American individuals and entities that have taken hostile steps against Iran and “other Muslim nations in the region.”
The State and Treasury Departments announced the U.S. has designated 18 individuals and entities, including some based in China and Turkey, for supporting the missile program, Iranian military procurement, or the IRGC – the powerful military organization that has been behind terrorism directed at the U.S., Israel and Jews since the early 1980s, and is deeply involved in propping up the Assad regime in Syria.
Among those targeted Tuesday were an Iran-based transnational criminal organization and three people associated with it.
The organization, the Ajily Software Procurement Group “uses hackers to steal engineering software programs from the United States and other western countries,” said the Treasury Department.
“Some of this software was sold to Iranian military and government entities, which are unable to acquire it overtly because of U.S. export controls and sanctions. The hackers use computer servers located in multiple Western countries to carry out their thefts.”
The administration linked Tuesday’s measures with a certification to Congress that Iran is meeting its commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear agreement.
As a result, the administration informed Congress it will continue to waive nuclear-related sanctions to comply with U.S. JCPOA obligations.
It was the Trump administration’s second such certification, required by law every 90 days.
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert made it clear the certification did not mean the administration – which is conducting a review of the JCPOA and associated sanctions relief – believes Iran is embracing the “spirit” of the agreement.
She noted in a statement that according to the JCPOA text, the countries involved anticipate that full implementation “will positively contribute to regional and international peace and security.”
“However, Iran’s other malign activities are serving to undercut whatever ‘positive contributions’ to regional and international peace and security were intended to emerge from the JCPOA,” she said.
The new sanctions are being imposed under two executive orders – one (E.O. 13382 of 2005) dealing with proliferators of weapons of mass destruction and WMD means of delivery and those who support proliferation, and the other (E.O. 13581 of 2011) targeting transnational criminal organizations.
“These sanctions target procurement of advanced military hardware, such as fast attack boats and unmanned aerial vehicles, and send a strong signal that the United States cannot and will not tolerate Iran’s provocative and destabilizing behavior,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. “We will continue to target the IRGC and pressure Iran to cease its ballistic missile program and malign activities in the region.”
The measures stopped short of designating the IRGC under E.O. 13224, a post-9/11 order designed to disrupt funding to terrorists. There have been growing calls for the Trump administration to take that step – or the even more far-reaching one of designating the IRGC as a foreign terrorist organization (FTO).
In 2007 President Bush used E.O. 13224 to designate the IRGC’s Qods Force for providing support to terrorists, citing Hezbollah, three Palestinian terror groups, and the Taliban. But Iran experts have told Congress that the Qods Force is an inseparable part of the IRGC, which should be designated in its entirety.
Iran engagement proponents, on the other hand, argue that blacklisting the IRGC would risk a violent backlash.
On Monday, Iran armed forces chief Maj. Gen. Mohammad Hossein Baqeri issued a direct threat along those lines, warning Washington that naming the IRGC a terrorist group “would be a big risk to the US and its bases and forces stationed in the region.”
In response to threats to target the missile program, Baqeri declared that Iran’s missiles would not be “subject to bargaining and negotiation at any level.”
Both the missile program and IRGC are targeted in new bipartisan legislation that passed the Senate last month.
The legislation, which has been sent to the House of Representatives, mandates sanctions against the IRGC as a whole, under E.O. 13224.
‘An environment of uncertainty’
The National Iranian American Council (NIAC), which advocates engagement with Tehran, on Tuesday criticized the administration’s approach.
“While the Trump administration certified Iran’s compliance with the JCPOA with one hand today, it continues to undermine the nuclear accord with the other by undermining the sanctions relief process,” said NIAC president Trita Parsi.
He accused the administration of having “deliberately created an environment of uncertainty by consistently questioning the validity of the JCPOA, hinting that the U.S. might quit the agreement, and by suggesting that it might pursue regime change in Iran.”’
Iran complained to the U.N. last month that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was advocating “regime change.”
In fact, in an appearance before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Tillerson said it was administration policy to “work toward support of those elements inside of Iran that would lead to a peaceful transition of that government.”
“Those elements are there certainly, as we know,” he added, without elaborating.
One group that does call for regime change in Tehran, the exiled National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), welcomed the new sanctions, and reiterated its calls for the IRGC to be designated “as a terrorist entity” and to be expelled from the region, particularly from Iraq and Syria.
“A firm approach is the only correct policy vis-à-vis a regime, which is the world’s most active state sponsor of terrorism and extremism,” it said.
And, they are exactly right.
Are you old enough to remember the Iranian Hostage Crisis? If not, here is a summary, courtesy of u-s-history.com:
On November 4, 1979, an angry mob of some 300 to 500 “students” who called themselves “Imam’s Disciples,” laid siege to the American Embassy in Teheran, Iran, to capture and hold hostage 66 U.S. citizens and diplomats. Although women and African-Americans were released a short time later, 51 hostages remained imprisoned for 444 days with another individual released because of illness midway through the ordeal.
…Upon the death of the shah in July  (which neutralized one demand) and the Iraqi invasion of Iran in September (necessitating weapons acquisition), Iran became more amenable to reopening negotiations for the hostages’ release.
In the late stages of the presidential race with Ronald Reagan, Carter, given those new parameters, might have been able to bargain with the Iranians, which might have clinched the election for him. The 11th-hour heroics were dubbed an “October Surprise”* by the Reagan camp — something they did not want to see happen.
Allegations surfaced that William Casey, director of the Reagan campaign, and some CIA operatives, secretly met with Iranian officials in Europe to arrange for the hostages’ release, but not until after the election. If true, some observers aver, dealing with a hostile foreign government to achieve a domestic administration’s defeat would have been grounds for charges of treason.
Reagan won the election, partly because of the failure of the Carter administration to bring the hostages home. Within minutes of Reagan’s inauguration, the hostages were released.
In stark, terrifying contrast, the 44th President of the United States of America, Barack Hussein Obama, purposely and surreptitiously handed a Rogue State of Radical Muslim Barbarians the means of the destruction of both the United States of America and our staunch ally, Israel, with his toothless “Nuclear Agreement”
Why did the President of these United States, Barack Hussein Obama, trust Iran, an enemy of freedom, to stand by its “Agreement” to refrain from nuking the United States of America and Israel?
He gave Iran everything they wanted: their money, nuclear capability, and acquiescence by the Government of the United States of America, literally, encouraging the world’s population of Islamic Terrorists to kidnap our own Naval Personnel, with the promise of a huge payday, while he remained president.
By the way, in case you didn’t know, there was a reason, besides his duties as Secretary of State, that John F. Kerry did the bulk of “negotiating” with the Mad Mullahs of the Rogue State of Iran during the second half of Obama’s Presidency…
They were “family”.
As noted on the website of Lt. Col. Allen B. West…
…in 2009, the daughter of Secretary of State John Kerry, Dr. Vanessa Bradford Kerry, John Kerry’s younger daughter by his first wife, married an Iranian-American physician named Dr. Brian (Behrooz) Vala Nahed.
…Brian (Behrooz) Nahed is son of Nooshin and Reza Vala Nahid of Los Angeles. Brian’s Persian birth name is “Behrooz Vala Nahid” but it is now shortened and Americanized in the media to “Brian Nahed.” At the time his engagement to Bradford Kerry, there was rarely any mention of Nahed’s Persian/Iranian ancestry, and even the official wedding announcement in the October 2009 issue of New York Times carefully avoids any reference to Dr. Nahed (Nahid)’s birthplace (which is uncommon in wedding announcements) and starts his biography from his college years.
…Zarif is the current minister of foreign affairs in the Rouhani administration and has held various significant diplomatic and cabinet posts since the 1990s. He was Kerry’s chief counterpart in the nuclear deal negotiations.
Secretary Kerry and Zarif first met over a decade ago at a dinner party hosted by George Soros at his Manhattan penthouse. What a surprise. I have to say, connecting the dots gets more and more frightening.
But it gets even worse. Guess who was the best man at the 2009 wedding between Kerry’s daughter Vanessa and Behrouz Vala Nahed? Javad Zarif’s son.
Does this bother anyone at all?
Apparently Kerry only revealed his daughter’s marriage to an Iranian-American once he had taken over as Secretary of State. But the subject never came up in his Senate confirmation hearing, either because Kerry never disclosed it, or because his former colleagues were “too polite” to bring it up.
Happily, as I have written before, there’s a new sheriff in town.
Foreign Leaders, who enjoyed the advantage that they had under the weak and vacillating Foreign Policy of Barack Hussein Obama, do not want the United States to regain our position as the Leader of the Free World.
And, they certainly do not want a President who will honor our friendship with our ally, Israel.
That is why they feared a Trump Presidency.
It was far more lucrative for them, when the United States “negotiated from a position of weakness”, when we had a vacillating dhimmi in the White House.
Now, they have to negotiate with an American President who has mastered “The Art of the Deal”.
…one who will place America and her best interests, first.
The problem Trump faces with Iran is that they are a state sponsor of Radical Islamic Terrorism. They are bullies who will lie to your face, as they did to our naïve Former President, when he made his “Gentlemen’s Agreement” with them concerning the development of nuclear weapons.
They are testing President Trump’s and our nation’s resolve. Plain and simple.
Just like President Reagan sent a guided missile straight into Libyan Madman Moamar Kadhafi’s bedroom, perhaps it is time for President Trump to “fire a shot across the bow” and get the attention of the Radical Islamic Mullahs who govern the Rogue Country of Iran.
After all, bullies with think twice if you stand up to them and give them something to think about.
Ask the bully in 7th grade whom I hit square between the eyes with my 2s (Tom) drumsticks.
He never bothered me again.
Please allow me to tell another personal Story in closing.
As the Iranian Revolution was occurring, a wonderful family, friends of the Shah, escaped the barbarians who were laying waste to what was once a vibrant nation.
He was an engineer. She was an English Professor at the University of Tehran. They had two young children, a boy and a girl.
He decided to leave his family here and to travel back to Iran to check on his family and try to get them out.
He was never heard from again.
These are they type of people that we are dealing with, Mr. President.
Do not expect any sort of civilized negotiations with them.
Treat them as barbarians who murder their own people with no remorse.
For that is indeed, who they are.
Until He Comes,