Author Topic: Iran  (Read 380986 times)

DougMacG

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It turns out Iran was cheating on its non-nuclear promise
« Reply #1150 on: April 10, 2020, 06:08:34 AM »
https://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2020/04/09/Records-show-Iran-lied-about-making-nuclear-weapons-scientists-say/7361586436298/?ts_tn_int=7

https://isis-online.org/uploads/isis-reports/documents/Shahid_Mahallati_April_8_2020_final.pdf

April 9 (UPI) -- A non-profit global science and security group says in a new report that Iran has built a plant to produce nuclear weapons despite its insistence that all its atomic endeavors are wholly peaceful.

The Washington, D.C.-based Institute for Science and International Security said the 30-page report is based on documents from the Iran Nuclear Archive that were seized by Israel two years ago.

The analysis, posted Wednesday, said Tehran has "clearly" been dishonest with the International Atomic Energy Agency, which relies on government cooperation and onsite inspections. "Iran should declare this site to the International Atomic Energy Agency and allow its inspection, since the facility was designed and built to handle nuclear material subject to safeguards under Iran's comprehensive safeguards agreement," wrote scientists David Albright, Sarah Burkhard and Frank Pabian.
The report says Iran created the Shahid Mahallati Uranium Metals Workshop, near Tehran, to research and develop uranium metallurgy related to building nuclear weapons -- particularly components for weapons-grade uranium, the key explosive material in Iranian nuclear weapon cores.

The group said Iran told the IAEA more than four years ago it hadn't done any metallurgical work intended for nuclear weaponry and wasn't willing to discuss any similar activities "that did not have such an application."

RELATED IMF should think carefully on Iran aid
"The activities at Shahid Mahallati and [another plant] Shahid Boroujerdi are a dramatic contrast to that statement," the report added. "Highlighting once again that Iran furthered its nuclear weapons capabilities far more than was known prior to Israel's seizure of the Nuclear Archive, permitting Iran today to build nuclear weapons faster than previously believed.


Crafty_Dog

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Is Iran on the Brink of a ChiCom Cootie coup?
« Reply #1152 on: April 15, 2020, 12:48:24 PM »
Is Iran on the Brink of a Coronavirus Coup?
by A.J. Caschetta
The Hill
April 14, 2020
https://www.meforum.org/60693/is-iran-on-the-brink-of-a-coronavirus-coup

=============================

"We Can't Even Count Anymore" – How Iran and the WHO Let Coronavirus Proliferate
by Potkin Azarmehr
Special to IPT News
April 14, 2020
https://www.investigativeproject.org/8369/we-cant-even-count-anymore-how-iran-and-the-who

« Last Edit: April 15, 2020, 01:18:44 PM by Crafty_Dog »

G M

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Re: Is Iran on the Brink of a ChiCom Cootie coup?
« Reply #1153 on: April 15, 2020, 02:05:03 PM »
Hopefully the end of both the Mullahs and the ChiComs.


Is Iran on the Brink of a Coronavirus Coup?
by A.J. Caschetta
The Hill
April 14, 2020
https://www.meforum.org/60693/is-iran-on-the-brink-of-a-coronavirus-coup

=============================

"We Can't Even Count Anymore" – How Iran and the WHO Let Coronavirus Proliferate
by Potkin Azarmehr
Special to IPT News
April 14, 2020
https://www.investigativeproject.org/8369/we-cant-even-count-anymore-how-iran-and-the-who

Crafty_Dog

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Stratfor: Trump ups the ante w Iran
« Reply #1157 on: April 29, 2020, 06:30:45 AM »
Trump Ups the Ante With Iran in the Persian Gulf
6 MINS READ
Apr 27, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
An Iranian warship takes part in celebrations for “National Persian Gulf Day” in the Strait of Hormuz on April 30, 2019.
An Iranian warship takes part in celebrations for “National Persian Gulf Day” in the Strait of Hormuz on April 30, 2019.

(ATTA KENARE/AFP via Getty Images)
HIGHLIGHTS

Regardless of any public threats made by U.S. President Donald Trump, Iran will likely continue its aggressive maritime strategy in retaliation against U.S. sanctions and Washington's military presence in the Persian Gulf.

To avoid prompting a U.S. response, Tehran may initially focus these efforts on ramping up pressure against commercial targets in the region.

But Iran will eventually return to harassing U.S. naval ships in order to assess how far the White House has shifted its response posture and risk tolerance.

Iran’s nuclear activities and support of militias in Iraq, meanwhile, could still trigger the next spike in U.S.-Iran tensions as well.
Iran and the United States may be heading toward another round of confrontation, even as both countries deal with significant COVID-19 outbreaks at home. Following a recent incident where 11 Iranian ships harassed U.S. vessels transiting the Persian Gulf, U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted April 22 that he had "instructed" the U.S. Navy to destroy any Iranian vessels harassing U.S. ships. It remains unclear the extent to which, if at all, the United States will adjust its rules of engagement in response to Iran's latest maritime provocations. But the exchange highlights how Washington and Tehran’s current hawkish streak and inclination toward public threats could lead to another round of miscalculation and/or escalation between the two rivals.

The Big Picture

Despite COVID-19 and the global economic and humanitarian impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the ongoing rivalry between Iran and the United States continues to simmer. Following the latest spike in tensions in the Persian Gulf, Tehran and Washington could be entering into another cycle of escalation that culminates a short-term flare-up in tensions.

Iran Won't Back Down

Iran is not likely to shy away from maintaining its aggressive strategy in the Persian Gulf, Strait of Hormuz and Gulf of Oman. For Iran, this approach is effectively indispensable at the current time, both for strategic and defense purposes. Under the weight of U.S. sanctions, Tehran has sought to remind the United States and its regional partners of the economic and security costs of Washington's maximum pressure campaign. And incidents in the Persian Gulf help do just that by illustrating the risk of the United States maintaining a physical presence in the region. Attacking commercial traffic in the Persian Gulf also helps highlight the cost of the White House's anti-Iran strategy to the global economy and U.S. regional partners.

In fact, Iran's actions over the last month show that Iran may be assessing it needs to use this strategy even more. COVID-19 has only worsened Iran's economic crisis, and the United States is now attempting to block Iran's request to the International Monetary Fund for pandemic aid. While Washington has argued that its sanctions do not cover humanitarian-related trade, such as medical supplies and pharmaceuticals, Iran has argued that sanctions are disrupting those flows regardless due to banks and suppliers not wanting to deal with Iran in any fashion for fear of also stoking the White House's financial ire. As a result, many banks and financial institutions have decided that the rewards of doing business with Iran is not worth the risks.


Prior to the most recent harassment of U.S. vessels, there were several incidents in the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman in recent weeks that are likely attributable to Iran. On March 27, the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations reported a suspicious approach to one of its vessels in the Persian Gulf. On April 14 — the day before the Pentagon reported that U.S. ships had been harassed — a tanker was boarded in the Gulf of Oman and shifted course toward Iran before being released.

The latest spate of incidents in the Persian Gulf are reminiscent of Iran's activities in the summer of 2019, which ultimately culminated with the attack on Saudi Arabia's Abqaiq and Khurais oil processing facilities. Last year's actions suggest that Iran's tolerance for risk incurred from continuing its activities is high. However, in light of the economic fallout from COVID-19, instead of initially responding by continuing to harass U.S. armed forces' ships, Iran's naval operations may instead focus more on attacking commercial activities, particularly if Iran assesses that Trump's twitter directives are legitimate. In addition, Iran will consider expanding its tactics against commercial interests and the United States in the region beyond just naval harassment, just as it did last summer when it struck Saudi Arabia and ordered its powerful proxy network of Iraqi militia groups to attack U.S. troops in the country.

A Recalculated Maritime Strategy

But at some point in the future, Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) will likely challenge Trump's threat in order to assess the extent to which the United States has changed its rules of engagement — especially if Trump is re-elected in November. In practice, the IRGC has a large gradient of activities that could be defined as harassing U.S. ships and would likely scale up its response from a low level. Nevertheless, even if Iran does not want to trigger a major response, the strategy is rife with the risk of miscalculations. 

With the price of Brent crude at around $20 per barrel and the global oil market oversupplied by as much as 20 to 30 million barrels per day, Iran's lever in attempting to close the Strait of Hormuz or knock out a significant amount of Saudi Arabian or Emirati oil production for several months simply will not have the same global economic consequences that it would during normal global economic conditions, which could allow the United States to be more aggressive.

Washington and Tehran’s current hawkish streak and inclination toward public threats could lead to another round of miscalculation and/or escalation between the two rivals in the Persian Gulf.

On top of the COVID-19 crisis, an aggressive campaign by Iran against commercial interests in the region will cause considerable economic pain for U.S. allies in the region, such as Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Iran has shown that it is willing to attack economic targets in these nearby countries, as well as vessels shipping their energy products. Even if Iran does not launch an attack, a more aggressive U.S. strategy against Iran during the current global economic environment and fragile situation in the Middle East could thus drive a further wedge between the United States and its regional allies. Indeed, Iran's attacks last year ultimately led, at least for a short-time period, to members of the Gulf Cooperation Council trying to defuse tensions with Iran themselves and more Iranian aggression could reopen another such period of potential rapprochement.

One of Several Flashpoints

Nevertheless, while Trump's tweet and Iran's recent maritime activities represent another flashpoint, Iran's nuclear program and the actions of Iranian-backed militias in Iraq remain perhaps the two most incendiary triggers for the next round of escalation between Washington and Tehran. Iran's nuclear program continues to stockpile more low-enriched uranium and the next report from the United Nations' International Atomic Energy Agency – likely to be out in June – is expected to show a significant increase in those stockpiles.

The United States has a critical decision to make at the end of the month on whether or not it will extend sanctions waivers for Iraq to continue importing Iranian natural gas for its domestic energy and electricity needs. If the current waivers are not extended, Iraq could be facing severe power shortages as the summer heats up, providing even more reason for Iranian-backed militias to target U.S. troops and trigger a wider proxy conflict in the country.

Crafty_Dog

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NRO How the US could end the nuke deal once and for all
« Reply #1158 on: April 29, 2020, 06:47:00 AM »
second post

How the U.S. Could End the Iran Nuclear Deal Once and for All
By JAMES S. ROBBINS
April 28, 2020 4:59 PM


Though the Trump administration has already withdrawn from the deal, there is still a clear path to scuttling it at the U.N.
Is the United States still a participant in the Iran nuclear deal? Well, yes and no.

The U.S. is seeking to maintain an international conventional-arms embargo on Iran that’s set to expire in October. The embargo was included in the enabling resolutions that the United Nations Security Council passed as part of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), otherwise known as the Iran nuclear deal. Its restrictions on small-arms sales to Iran expire this year, with its ban on the sale of missile parts and other weapons extending another three years.

The State Department is promoting a new Security Council resolution that would extend the embargo indefinitely, which is certain to face opposition from Russia or China, both of whom have veto power. It would be smarter to simply activate the “snapback” mechanism in the JCPOA, restoring the entire pre-agreement U.N. sanctions regime and killing the deal for good.

Critics might object that President Trump withdrew the United States from the JCPOA two years ago, so Washington has no standing to engage its snapback provision. But it’s not that simple.

The Obama administration could have tried to craft a binding, entirely self-contained multilateral treaty, which would be more clear-cut — a country would either be a signatory to the treaty or not. But Obama’s team knew it lacked the influence to craft a deal that the U.S. Senate would approve as a formal treaty, or even the minimal political clout to change the existing sanctions regime. So instead negotiators came up with what amounted to an executive agreement to use temporary loopholes in existing U.S. law to lift American sanctions, and crafted an omnibus 104-page Security Council resolution, UNSCR 2231, to clean things up on the U.N. side. And whatever the status of the JCPOA, UNSCR 2231 is still operative, and the United States, as a U.N. member state, is still a participant in it.

There are several ways in which the JCPOA can self-destruct under UNSCR 2231. Article 26 tells us that Iran would consider the re-introduction of sanctions “as grounds to cease performing its commitments under this JCPOA in whole or in part.” The United States has already re-imposed sanctions, and Iran has been enriching uranium well beyond the limits of the agreement, meaning both conditions for the deal’s destruction have been met.

NOW WATCH: 'AOC Praises Crash of U.S. Oil Market'

Article 10, meanwhile, notes one means of resolution, in which any “JCPOA participant State” can bring a complaint. Critics claim this means that the U.S. can’t scuttle the JCPOA, because it is no longer such a participant state. But that’s not quite right, either. The dispute-resolution mechanism detailed in Article 36 allows “any of the E3/EU+3,” including the U.S., to refer a case of “significant non-performance” of duties under the JCPOA to a Joint Commission and Advisory Board for a series of reviews over 30 days. If the “complaining participant” is not satisfied with the outcome of this process, it may “notify the UN Security Council that it believes the issue constitutes significant non-performance.”

5
Here is the beautiful part: Once that notification occurs, Article 37 gives the Security Council 30 days to consider a resolution to “continue the sanctions lifting” — i.e. to leave the deal in place. If it fails to pass such a resolution in that time period, “the provisions of the old UN Security Council resolutions would be re-imposed.” This is the so-called “snap back” that we have heard so much about. And because it kicks in automatically unless the Security Council passes a continuing resolution, the veto power that Russia and China hold as permanent Security Council members is irrelevant, and the veto power that the U.S. similarly holds is decisive.

The United States has every right under UNSCR 2231 to bring the matter of Iranian non-compliance to the Joint Commission. For that matter, Iran could file a complaint against the United States on the same grounds. The fact that Iran has not yet done so tells us that it knows where that process would lead, and is a great argument for the U.S. to start the clock ticking immediately. Presented with a poison pill, pro-Iranian members of the Security Council may decide that extending the current arms embargo is the lesser of two evils. But either way, the Trump administration will win.

Crafty_Dog

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The real threats behind Iran's military satellite launch
« Reply #1159 on: May 01, 2020, 07:36:52 AM »
The Real Threats Behind Iran's Military Satellite Launch
by Potkin Azarmehr
IPT News
May 1, 2020
https://www.investigativeproject.org/8387/the-real-threats-behind-iran-military-satellite

Crafty_Dog

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Iranian Missiles likely cause of next war
« Reply #1161 on: May 14, 2020, 07:05:22 AM »
Jonathan Schanzer: Iranian Missiles "Likely to Be the Cause of the Middle East's Next War"
by Gary C. Gambill
May 12, 2020
https://www.meforum.org/60908/schanzer-the-cause-of-the-middle-easts-next-war


Crafty_Dog

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GPF: For Iran, US withdrawal is a blessing and a curse
« Reply #1163 on: May 23, 2020, 10:43:31 AM »


   
    For Iran, a US Withdrawal Is a Blessing and a Curse
By: Caroline D. Rose

Next month, a U.S. delegation will board a plane to Baghdad to discuss with Iraqi leaders the prospect of reducing Washington’s military footprint on Iraqi soil. It would have been an unthinkable idea at the beginning of the year, when U.S.-Iran tensions came to a head after the assassination of Qassem Soleimani, the leader of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Even then, the Iraqi parliament voted on a bill that would have sent the U.S. packing had it ever been executed. But where the parliament failed, the coronavirus pandemic, a mounting recession and global uncertainty may succeed in getting Washington to withdraw from the region – something it had tacitly wanted to do anyway, at least on its own terms – more quickly. Ready and waiting to capitalize on its departure is Iran.

Despite Iran’s own problems in managing the coronavirus outbreak, its foreign policy seems to be having a moment in the sun. Over the past three months, the IRGC and its Shiite proxies have taken advantage of the international distraction and Washington’s absence to launch successive attacks on American targets. Indeed, it appears as though Iran is getting what it wants: a path to project power in the Levant. But it won’t be that easy for the IRGC. U.S. force reduction will not necessarily translate to sanctions relief or give way to an unobstructed march to the Mediterranean. Plenty of constraints remain, even in the absence of the U.S.
 
(click to enlarge)

Cutting the Cord

Since 1979, the Levant, particularly Iraq, has been a battleground for political and military influence in the Middle East. Boxed in by the Zagros Mountains and with difficult maritime access due to the Strait of Hormuz, Iran crafted a policy by which it projects power abroad primarily through proxy forces to its west. And since the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the United States has stood in its way.

Fast-forward to 2020. As the world tried to make sense of the ongoing pandemic, Iran resumed its attacks on the U.S. and its anti-Islamic State coalition partners. Just this week, the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad’s Green Zone was struck by a rocket, very likely launched by an IRGC-aligned militia. Iran also upped the ante in the Persian Gulf. In April, 11 Iranian fast boats harassed a warship from the U.S. 5th Fleet, edging so close that the U.S. threaten to shoot the Iranian ships out of the water if they came within 100 meters again. U.S. aggression has proved almost entirely rhetorical. Washington has long wanted to leave; Iranian attacks and a global viral outbreak gave it an excuse to cut the cord. The Pentagon thus began pulling forces from coalition bases, reducing troop counts or withdrawing altogether. In just four months, the U.S. has drawn down from more than five bases, including the strategically important base in al-Qaim, which straddles the Syria-Iraq border.

And instead of beefing up American operational presence in the Persian Gulf – something you may expect to happen in the wake of maritime provocations – the Pentagon signaled a large-scale plan that actually reduces the official number of overall personnel in the region, and is reportedly considering scaling down the 5th Fleet’s presence in the Persian Gulf by one aircraft carrier strike group, withdrawing two Patriot missile defense systems, air defense systems and jet fighters from Saudi Arabia, while mulling a reduction in the Multinational Force and Observers peacekeeping mission in the Sinai Peninsula.

Iran has acted quickly to increase its military hold in Iraq and Syria, beefing up its defensive presence and smuggling capabilities along the al-Qaim highway. Recent satellite imagery from ImageSat International shows an Iranian tunnel project under the Imam Ali military base in Abu Kamal, Syria, on the Syria-Iraq border. Tunnels between pro-Iran proxy strongholds in western Iraq and IRGC locations in eastern Syria strengthen Iran’s strategy to expand its influence west, allowing IRGC forces and their proxies to store vehicles, shelter personnel, transport advanced weapon systems, and smuggle arms from the east to the Mediterranean.

 
(click to enlarge)

Related, Iran has been engaging more in the Israel-Palestine conflict. With reduced American presence in Sinai – the traditional buffer between Israel and Arab countries – Iran has begun rallying Palestinian militant groups such as Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, both sympathetic to Iran, to confront Israel, all while increasing its own military exchanges with Israel through Hezbollah and cyberattacks on Israeli water installations.

Remaining Challenges

And yet, Iran isn’t without challenges. In light of the drawdown, Saudi Arabia, for example, has begun to rethink its Iran strategy. With an oil price crisis, creeping global recession and sudden withdrawal of Patriot systems, Riyadh wants to find a quick, cost-effective way to keep Iranian aggression at bay. Saudi officials have therefore sanctioned talks with Iran, with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman nominating Iraq’s new prime minister to act as mediator. Even so, discussions between the two have long proved fruitless, and diplomacy should be seen only as a measure of first resort. Indeed, Riyadh has already made plans to replace the two U.S. Patriots with its own missile defense system, increase military training exercises with U.S. advisers and secure a Boeing contract of 1,000 air-to-surface and anti-ship missiles – all to curb Iranian attacks.

Israel, too, will be one of Iran’s largest impediments. Already it has increased strikes on IRGC and Hezbollah equipment storage locations and bases in Syria by sevenfold. It has also intensified its border patrols, destruction of cross-border tunnels, and cyberattacks on Iranian entities. This week alone, Israel conducted a cyberattack on Iran’s Shadi Rajaee port facility, causing a major backlog in terminal arrivals and maritime traffic. With reduced U.S. presence in the Levant, Israel will likely up the ante in attacks on IRGC factions in Syria and Lebanon. (Notably, Israel and the Arab Gulf states have entered a quiet alliance against Iran, sharing intelligence and engaging in back-channel talks.)

Just as daunting are the internal challenges Iran will face in sustaining the political and military influence it’s built in the region. Since the fall of 2019, massive political movements have emerged in Lebanon and Iraq protesting economic conditions, unemployment, corruption and rising inflation. A key feature of these protests has been mounting resentment of foreign interference – particularly by the U.S. military and Iranian proxies. In Iraq, elements of the nationalist Sadrist movement have been especially loud in their opposition to Iran, with some even attacking Iranian consulate buildings and IRGC-sponsored militia headquarters. In Lebanon, much of the anti-Iran sentiment has been directed at Hezbollah, a major beneficiary of Iranian political, military and financial support (even though sanctions have put a dent in aid in recent years). With the U.S. withdrawn, protesters will hone in on Iranian intrusion even more.

Syria is perhaps even more problematic. The country has been one of Iran’s strongest Arab allies for decades, and its presence in Syria depends overwhelmingly on President Bashar Assad remaining in power. There are signs, however, that Iran is struggling to keep influence there. Rumors have begun to circulate that Russian President Vladimir Putin, another staunch Assad ally, is unhappy with the Syrian government. Since 2015, Moscow has helped Assad stay in power, providing aid, airpower and infrastructural investment that has allowed the regime to regain a majority of rebel-held provinces. If Russia decides its gambit in Syria is no longer worth the cost, either withdrawing its forces or looking to an alternative source of power to unify the country, Iran is at risk of losing its proxy influence in Syria.

Then there is the U.S., which will still have plenty of in-theater capabilities in the Middle East. The U.S. 5th Fleet and air defenses aren’t going anywhere. The Air Force still maintains multiple squadrons of fighter jets in Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and other undisclosed locations. And though the U.S. is reducing its physical footprint in the Middle East, it will increase its reliance on economic statecraft – sanctions, oil embargoes and foreign aid – as its primary mechanism to pressure Iran into financial and political collapse. Washington has already proposed extending the U.N. arms embargo on Iran, plans to sanction Iranian officials and companies that support the Assad regime under the Caesar Act, and is considering a blockade on Iran-Venezuela mutual assistance over recent Iranian oil shipments.

So while Iran may seem well suited to take the reins of the Middle East when the U.S. is away, the reality is more difficult. Its recession has gotten worse. Oil exports have crashed. The rial has been put on life support. The cost of living has skyrocketed. And there is a network of enemies and tenuous friendships that stand in its path to the Mediterranean. The U.S. departure from the Middle East may not create a proverbial power vacuum, but it will dramatically shift the regional balance of power in ways that will constrain Iran.   




Crafty_Dog

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WSJ: Iran's pre-deal deceptions
« Reply #1164 on: June 10, 2020, 06:41:30 AM »
Iran’s Pre-Deal Deceptions
Tehran denies U.N. inspectors access to two nuclear sites.
By The Editorial Board
June 9, 2020 7:19 pm ET

The Islamic Republic long has been deceitful about its nuclear ambitions, but for years the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has given the regime cover in public. Maybe not anymore.

“The Agency notes with serious concern that, for over four months, Iran has denied access to” two sites in the country, says an IAEA report sent to member states Friday and shown to the press. It adds that for nearly a year the Islamic Republic has failed to clarify “questions related to possible undeclared nuclear material and nuclear-related activities.”

The IAEA is particularly concerned about the location of an undeclared metal disk made of uranium and the use of other undisclosed nuclear material for research in the early 2000s. The report notes Tehran’s habit of scrubbing or destroying facilities.

The foundation of Barack Obama’s 2015 nuclear deal was ostensibly an honest accounting of Iran’s nuclear misdeeds. Yet the report, and Tehran’s intransigence, make clear the country has been hiding nuclear facilities and material. The evidence raises anew the suspicion that the regime’s plan was to reap the accord’s economic rewards, then—assisted by hidden materials and research—move to produce a weapon once the deal’s restrictions expire.

A separate IAEA report sent Friday noted that Iran had increased its uranium stockpile, though the government has stopped short of weapons-grade enrichment. On June 1 Tehran also told the agency it was now preparing new centrifuges at the Natanz facility, after it began injecting uranium gas into Fordow’s centrifuges last year.

Critics of President Trump’s “maximum-pressure” sanctions say the violations prove the strategy has failed. But this is an expected response to increased economic pressure. Tehran’s escalations are calculated to scare other signatories without pushing them out of the 2015 deal. Mr. Trump has generated significant new leverage to renegotiate a new nuclear accord that also addresses the regime’s regional activity and missile program.

But it’s unlikely Iran will act before the 2020 U.S. presidential election. It’s no secret Tehran wants Mr. Trump to lose. Iranian hackers have targeted the President’s re-election campaign, according to Google and Microsoft. And Joe Biden has said he would re-enter the 2015 nuclear deal before pursuing a new agreement.

No matter who wins, it would be unwise to throw away the new leverage built by maximum pressure. And it would be downright foolish to ease sanctions on Iran amid its IAEA dispute. The nuclear watchdog’s frank report should startle both candidates. There’s no way to negotiate a new deal, or return to the old one, without a real accounting of the country’s nuclear materials and research.


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« Last Edit: July 15, 2020, 11:37:28 AM by Crafty_Dog »


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The Explosions rocking Iran
« Reply #1171 on: July 23, 2020, 10:48:07 AM »

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Stratfor: US Snapbacks and Iran
« Reply #1172 on: August 21, 2020, 11:43:07 AM »
The U.S. ‘Snaps Back’ at Iran and the U.N. With Restored Sanctions
4 MINS READ
Aug 21, 2020 | 18:16 GMT
HIGHLIGHTS

Iran will wait until after U.S. elections to decide whether to withdraw from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in response to the United States' move to restore all U.N. sanctions. Europe, China and Russia, meanwhile, will forgo any large arms sales to Iran due to the expanded sanctions risk, despite not officially recognizing the U.S. action. On Aug. 20, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo notified the United Nations that the U.S. government was "snapping back" all sanctions on Iran, citing Tehran's significant non-compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal. The letter comes nearly a week after the U.N. Security Council rejected Washington's proposed resolution to indefinitely extend the U.N. arms embargo on Iran. Only the Dominican Republic sided with the United States on extending the arms embargo, which is currently set to expire on Oct. 18....

Iran will wait until after U.S. elections to decide whether to withdraw from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in response to the United States' move to restore all U.N. sanctions. Europe, China and Russia, meanwhile, will forgo any large arms sales to Iran due to the expanded sanctions risk, despite not officially recognizing the U.S. action.

What Happened

On Aug. 20, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo notified the United Nations that the U.S. government was "snapping back" all sanctions on Iran, citing Tehran's significant non-compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal. The letter comes nearly a week after the U.N. Security Council rejected Washington's proposed resolution to indefinitely extend the U.N. arms embargo on Iran. Only the Dominican Republic sided with the United States on extending the arms embargo, which is currently set to expire on Oct. 18.

In order to restore U.N. sanctions on Iran, the United States is making the controversial argument that it remains a "participant state" to the JCPOA, despite formally withdrawing from the deal in 2018. Washington claims that because of this, it still has the authority to bypass the deal's dispute resolution mechanism and trigger the snapback sanctions process under U.N. Security Council Resolution 2231, should it believe Iran is demonstrating "significant nonperformance" in adhering to the terms of the agreement.

The U.N. Security Council's other permanent members — France, Germany, Russia and the United Kingdom — have opposed this justification, arguing the United States relinquished its authority to unilaterally trigger such sanctions when Washington announced that it was "ceasing [its] participation in the JCPOA" in May 2018.

What It Means for Iran and Its Partners

While its rhetoric against the United States will be harsh, Iran will restrain its response to the new U.S. sanctions for fear of alienating Europe and a potential new U.S. administration. Rather than having the United States re-enter the JCPOA entirely, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden would likely instead focus on securing an initial agreement with modest sanctions relief for Iran, setting the stage for a longer process of talks to cover more contentious issues, such as nuclear enrichment and Tehran's missile programs. But extreme actions by Iran before the U.S. election in November, such as withdrawing from either the JCPOA or the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, would make launching outreach with a Biden administration far more difficult. Such drastic moves would also risk pushing Europe toward the United States, and could potentially prompt European countries to trigger the snapback sanctions themselves. In the interim, Iran is thus likely to announce a more modest response in line with the incremental moves it's made over the last two years following Washington's previous sanctions threats, such as resuming additional nuclear activities barred by the JCPOA.

Russia and China may still be willing to sign some defense deals with Iran, but they will be narrow in scope and largely only cover sales not included in the U.N. arms embargo, such as missile defense systems. Even sales that are allowed to go through will be selective, as Moscow and Beijing seek to avoid undue escalation in the Middle East that could alienate their relationships with Israel and Arab Gulf monarchies. Technology transfer and cooperation to help Iran continue to build its own domestic defense capabilities will still occasionally occur, but Tehran's financial isolation and limited resources will ultimately constrain its ability to buy large weapons systems from China and Russia.

Even if the U.N. arms embargo expires in October, Russian and Chinese defense companies will be concerned about U.S. sanctions cutting off their access to international financial transactions. Russian and Chinese banks and other financial institutions will also avoid processing any defense-related transactions due to similar concerns.

Both China and Russia have publicly opposed U.S. sanctions on Iran's oil sector, but most of their companies have still been careful to keep their business ties to Iran below the level that would trigger such sanctions.

Under the threat of expanded U.S. sanctions, Russia and China will be willing to transfer some technology components that could be embedded in Iranian military platforms. Such transactions, however, will likely be narrow enough to ensure they can be done covertly in order to avoid catching Washington's attention.

While sales of larger systems (such as fighter jets) to Iran are unlikely, defense agreements with Russia and China that have long delivery dates — and dates that can be delayed indefinitely — are possible as a symbolic show of support.

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GPF: Iran's Nuclear Dilemma
« Reply #1176 on: October 06, 2020, 08:37:52 AM »
October 2, 2020   View On Website
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    Iran’s Nuclear Dilemma

For many Iranians, the nuclear program is a key part of restoring the country’s past glory.
By: Hilal Khashan

Nationalism is a powerful force in Iran's political consciousness. But in recent centuries, military defeats, external occupations and foreign interference have tempered its citizens’ sense of historical and cultural pride. One of the more recent examples of foreign meddling is Operation Ajax, a U.S. plot to take down Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh in 1953 after he nationalized the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company and replace him with the shah. This event registered as an example of Western domination and helped motivate Iranians to reclaim their past glory.

The Iranian nuclear program is a continuation of this long-standing endeavor. Iranians, regardless of their political leanings, believe becoming a nuclear power is part of their national redemption story. They argue that they are surrounded by enemies who have violated their territorial integrity time and again. Even if they accept a new political deal that restricts their nuclear activity, they likely won’t abandon their goal of becoming a nuclear power altogether.

The Evolution of the Nuclear Program

During the Cold War, the United States considered the shah a component of its Soviet containment strategy. Iran, which saw the Soviet Union as its main security concern outside its own borders, was strategically located, forming with Turkey) the northern tier that would prevent the Soviet Union from encroaching on the oil-rich Persian Gulf. The shah recognized benefits of partnering with Washington. As part of President Dwight Eisenhower’s Atoms for Peace program, Iran signed a nuclear cooperation agreement with the U.S. in 1957. In 1959, the shah ordered the establishment of a nuclear research center at Tehran University, and nine years later, Iran’s U.S.-provided 5MW atomic reactor became operational. With Anglo-American backing, he sought to make Iran a regional power and the security broker of the Persian Gulf.

The shah secured technical expertise and enriched uranium to establish Iran’s nuclear program. Until his ouster in 1979, Iran collaborated with the U.S., France, India, Argentina, South Africa and Germany to help build the Bushehr nuclear reactor. The shah spent $6 billion to construct nuclear facilities and planned to spend another $30 billion to build 20 nuclear reactors. The annual budget of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, which he founded in 1974, totaled $1.3 billion, second only to the National Iranian Oil Company. Even though Iran signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Agreement in 1968, there was no doubt that the shah’s ultimate goal was to develop nuclear weapons.

Many Iranians, especially poorer rural folks who migrated to cities during the shah’s economic modernization campaign, saw no point in squandering the country’s oil resources on such an outlandish project. After the revolution, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, citing Islamic jurisprudence’s view that manufacturing atomic weapons is immoral, ordered the dismantling of the country’s nuclear program and allowed Iranian scientists to emigrate to foreign countries.

Khomeini seemed convinced that his revolution would soon spread throughout the Islamic world. He and the mullahs in Tehran did not expect Iraq to invade in September 1980, despite the fact that Iran had been provoking Iraq by planting explosives, launching cross-border shelling, attempting to assassinate senior officials, and encouraging Shiites to overthrow the Baathist regime. After they saw the damage weapons of mass destruction could do in the Iran-Iraq War, leaders came to regret dismantling the nuclear program and purging the armed forces after the revolution, both of which weakened the country against Iraq. They concluded that they must create a deterrent military capability consisting of conventional arms and weapons of mass destruction.

The war bloodied Iran, ravaged its economy and engendered a determination among the elite to acquire nuclear technology. Iran emerged militarily weak and had difficulty replenishing its depleted conventional military hardware with modern equipment. It sought to accelerate its nuclear program to achieve a deterrent capability and expand its ballistic missile program to offset a lack of sophisticated aircraft.

In 1989, Iran and the Soviet Union signed their first atomic deal. And in 1993, after Germany declined to resume the construction of the Bushehr nuclear reactor, Boris Yeltsin announced that Russia would complete it. Since the 1990s, however, the Iranians have toned down their public push for nuclear capabilities, recognizing that the international community is hell-bent on preventing Iran from acquiring an atomic bomb.

Motivations

Iran says that its nuclear ambitions are driven by a need for energy security, but considering the country’s enormous oil and gas deposits, that argument is unconvincing. (The cost of generating electricity from these supplies is less than 20 percent of the cost of generating electricity from nuclear power.) In truth, Iran believes it needs to become a nuclear power in order to be seen as an equal of one of its rivals, Israel. It also wants to improve its strategic outlook relative to Turkey, Central Asia and Pakistan. Iran borders hostile countries in Central Asia and shares porous borders with Pakistan in Baluchistan, and it believes that the best way to keep them at bay is by acquiring nuclear capabilities.

For the Iranian people, history goes a long way in explaining the need for a nuclear program. Since the rise of the Safavid dynasty in 1501, Iran has felt isolated. The defining Battle of Chaldrian in 1514, in which the Ottomans soundly defeated the Persian army, shocked the Safavids and created a perennial security complex for them. Then, after a series of defeats at the hands of czarist Russia, Iran lost Transcaucasia to the Russians following the signing of the 1819 Treaty of Gulistan. In the 20th century, Iran’s strategic vulnerability became worse after an uneven encounter with Russia and Great Britain.
 
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Iranians thus view their modern history as a history laden with defeat and abuse at the hands of foreign powers. They remember the 1890 tobacco concession deal in which Nasir al-Din Shah gave a British company a monopoly over the country’s tobacco industry for a ludicrously low price, and the 1901 D’Arcy concession that gave a British businessman the right to dominate the country’s oil industry. They also remember the Russian occupation of Tabriz in 1908. Iranians believe acquiring nuclear weapons would protect the country against future foreign meddling in their domestic affairs.

For Iran’s ruling conservatives, the nuclear program is necessary to maintain the country’s regional standing. They realize that the legitimacy Iran garnered through Khomeini’s revolution is eroding and believe the nuclear standoff with the U.S. is providing the regime with a new source of legitimacy.

U.S. and Israeli Concerns

Israel is adamant that it will not allow the Iranian nuclear program to continue. Over the past few years, agents apparently associated with Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency assassinated four Iranian scientists and wounded one more. Last July, a mysterious explosion caused by either a bomb or cyberattack destroyed a centrifuge workshop producing enriched uranium at the Natanz nuclear facility, 200 miles south of Tehran. Even though Iran has pledged to rebuild the plant deep inside the mountains, it was a major setback for the Iranian nuclear program that would require at least two years to overcome.
In May 2018, the U.S. withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal and reinstated crippling sanctions on the country. President Donald Trump believes the sanctions will force Iran to dismantle its nuclear and ballistic missile programs and end its support for its proxies throughout the Middle East. But Iran is too invested to back down. Iranians have seen their country withstand many challenges in the past and seem to believe that they will persevere again.   




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GPF: Answering the Question of Iran
« Reply #1177 on: October 07, 2020, 07:26:25 AM »
Answering the Question of Iran
The U.S. can’t truly leave Iraq without dealing with Iran.
By: Allison Fedirka

Earlier this week, the U.S. special representative for Iran said Washington would keep putting additional pressure on Iran in the days and weeks ahead. He also said that Iran had reached a moment where it recognized it could not indefinitely withstand such pressure and would have to either sign a new nuclear deal with Washington or abandon its regional strategy – that is, using proxies to carve out a sphere of influence to the Mediterranean Sea. The U.S. and Iran spar verbally all the time – and sometimes violently – but there’s reason to believe there’s bite behind Washington’s barks, and that tensions may soon intensify again.

The U.S. wants to reduce its global military footprint, especially in the Middle East, as it pivots to the Indo-Pacific. The ideal outcome would be a light security presence in certain hotspots that can be quickly scaled up in case of emergency. Though Washington has already done much in that regard, Iran’s presence in Iraq complicates the withdrawal. The U.S. doesn’t want to leave a country it has been at war with for nearly 20 years just to see Iran gain more political and security control there than it already had. Tehran’s nuclear ambitions, moreover, threaten to destabilize the region, and an unstable region will be more difficult to vacate. Squaring away the U.S. military departure from Iraq along with the Iraqi economy’s reconstruction efforts means finding a way to reduce the threat of Iranian influence. In other words, time is winding down to settle the status of Iran.
 
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In light of an uptick in rocket attacks conducted by Iran-backed Shiite militias against U.S. targets, there are now signals coming out of Iraq suggesting what the U.S. plan is. A strong military response by the U.S. is a nonstarter; it would be counterproductive to withdrawal efforts. But Washington can use political pressure, economic incentives and smaller-scale security moves to support Baghdad cracking down on the militias. For example, Washington appears ready to follow through on its threat to relocate its embassy in the Green Zone if security there remains suspect. There were also reports from Kurdistan late last week that U.S. coalition airstrikes against the Islamic State in northern Syria also hit targets belonging to the Popular Mobilization Forces, the loose collection of Iraq’s Shiite militias, in Anbar province. (The PMF initially confirmed the story but later denied it.)

Baghdad seems to have acquiesced to U.S. demands. Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi called for the creation of a military and security commission to investigate the recent rocket attacks, particularly those targeting U.S. assets. National Security Adviser Qasim al-Araji will oversee the investigation and report results directly back to the prime minister in 30 days. However, curbing Iranian influence among Iraqi militant groups will rely on the Iraqi federal government’s ability to stand on its own against militias sympathetic or financially beholden to Tehran – something the Iraqi government has been unable to do thus far.

Meanwhile, there are signs that Israel, a critical ally in the U.S. coalition against Iran, is also increasing pressure on Tehran. It has taken more responsibility for military strikes against Iranian proxy forces, largely because they are positioned along Israel’s borders. Just last week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused Hezbollah, the Lebanese militia, of maintaining a missile storage facility in a suburb of Beirut, which, if true, could lead to an Israeli attack. (Tactically, Israel is in a tough spot. It cannot afford to sit idly by, but attacking a site such as the one Netanyahu identified would cause mass civilian casualties and all but guarantee war.) For its part, Lebanon is trying to maintain the status quo with Israel, as evidenced by its agreement to reengage with U.S.-mediated maritime and land border talks. But talks have broken down before, and there’s no guarantee that these won’t either.

Two other developments together suggest that a move against Iran may be near. The French Foreign Ministry announced Oct. 1 that the European-led maritime surveillance mission’s mandate to operate in the Strait of Hormuz has been extended through 2021. Though the mission is not directly part of the U.S. pressure campaign and these waters have been relatively quiet in the past few months, that the statement was made at all shows that the potential for escalation still exists.
More directly related is the Oct. 6 statement from an official of Iran’s Ministry of Economic Affairs and Finance that Tehran was struggling to pay overtime, bonuses and pensions. The government had been selling surplus properties to acquire the needed funds to make ends meet, but the parliament temporarily stopped the practice on legal grounds. Whatever the case may be, the government is clearly hurting financially, and though it has the tools to temper public unrest, political patronage and protection come much easier with a fuller treasury.

It’s not entirely clear what more, if anything, the U.S. has in store for its maximum pressure campaign against Iran. Washington relied nearly exclusively on economic and diplomatic sanctions lately, so much so that it’s hard to imagine what else is left to sanction. It’s also unclear if Israel is truly prepared to move on Iran beyond airstrikes in Syria – or what would have to shift to change Israel’s mind. What is clear is that the U.S. has to settle the Iran question before it vacates Iraq, and that in the meantime, the Iranian people will bear the brunt of the suffering.