Congress Should Do Whatever Necessary To Prevent Iran From Developing A Nuclear Weapon

By Sal Bommarito

The impending Iran nuclear deal is one element of the ever-expanding enigma known as the Middle East. Every day the complexity of issues becomes more daunting exacerbated by indecision and rash diplomatic ploys.

President Obama and leaders from around the world must react to events in the Middle East influenced by a backdrop that includes ISIS fighters slaughtering other Arabs, a competitive Israeli election, a growing diplomatic rift between Israel and the U.S., a nuclear controversy, worsening tension between Shiites an Sunnis and an epic refugee problem.

Most of the issues are very important but none are existential with the exception of the Iran nuclear deal. The mass execution of innocents and the threat of civil wars in a strategic part of the world are disconcerting, but an Iranian nuclear capability is a game changer.

President Obama indicated at the outset of the current round of negotiations with Iran that a nuclear Iran was not a viable option. Things have changed dramatically over the past several months along with Obama’s objectives. He seems satisfied with a treaty that keeps Iran non-nuclear with a one-year lag if Iran opts out of the treaty; and the treaty expires in 10 years in any case.

Can you blame Congress for being unnerved by the new calculus? One day, our president is saying, “No nukes for Iran.” The next day, Iran is non-nuclear until they opt out, but no longer than a short decade.

The response of Republicans and Democrats to Obama’s efforts to keep them uninvolved was bipartisan; the lawmakers wanted to be able to approve a new treaty and any reductions in economic sanctions against Iraq. As Obama neared a deal with Iran, it appeared that he was prepared to be generous to our mortal enemy that has called for the annihilation of Israel and has been the most prolific supporter of terrorism in the region.

It’s probably a legacy thing. Obama has had very few memorable diplomatic achievements during his tenure, and he wants to make a big splash by ending the hostile relationship with Iran.

Republicans responded by asking Prime Minister Netanyahu to address Congress without [authorization, endorsement, approval] from the president. As the deadline for a deal approached, Senate Republicans sent an open letter to the Iranian leadership indicating that they were not happy with the proposals contained in the new deal, and that a new president or Congress could annul the treaty in the near future.

This action created a huge rift between the parties as it did break the traditional lines that separate the executive and legislative branches of the government. Many believe a president has the authority to negotiate a treaty, and after it is completed, the Senate votes to accept it or not. The Republicans were jumping the gun because they thought Obama overstepped his authority and was willing to give away too much relating to Iran’s ability to complete a bomb.

The question is, does Congress have a right, or even an obligation, to speak up and pre-judge a potentially dangerous arrangement by the president? Damn right it does! It’s unconscionable that the U.S. would negotiate a deal that would make Iran stronger militarily and create an existential threat to Israel.

Natanyahu Ready To Present His Perspectives To Congress

By Sal Bommarito

The Middle East continues to be a powder keg, literally, exacerbated by the milquetoast response of the U.S. and its coalition to the ISIS threat and an impending deal with Iran that would enable it to build a nuclear bomb in the near future.

This blog has lambasted the administration and Arab countries opposing ISIS for underestimating the potential of the insurgency and by responding in a manner that has allowed it to become a phenomenon attractive to young people around the world. More aggressive action is necessary immediately to prevent ISIS and its affiliates from becoming an existential threat to the Middle East.

But, this week, the Iran nuclear deal is front and center. Two New York Times articles will be referenced in this post. The first addresses the advocacy of Secretary of State John Kerry for an Iran treaty. The second outlines the growing conflict between the Obama administration and Israel pertaining to Iran’s nuclear program.

John Kerry is desperate to win a significant foreign policy victory. He has, unsuccessfully to this point, invested in personal relationships with several individuals in the Middle East, Europe and Russia trying to bring peace to the world. The Times states, “ . . . [because of] Kerry’s inordinate attention to [the Iran nuclear negotiations], there is an impression that he wants this agreement more so than the Iranians.” And, his “eagerness” is an “open invitation” for Iran to demand more concessions. The article references Kerry’s unsuccessful Middle East efforts that ended in “bitter recriminations between Israel and Palestine,” along with little progress to end the civil war in Syria. Regarding Russia, the U.S. is not even at the negotiating table in talks to end the violence in Ukraine.

Couple Kerry’s zeal with Obama’s obvious legacy ambitions and the situation could be explosive for the Middle East. If Kerry and Obama had their way, Iran would surely have a nuclear weapon in the near term. Fortunately, Congress will not allow the administration to give away the ranch because two U.S. politicians are worried about how history will remember them.

This all leads us to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who has arrived in Washington to address Congress, without endorsement by the Obama administration, to discuss the dangers associated with an Iran nuclear deal. Netanyahu considers an Iranian nuke an existential threat, and he should know given his country’s proximity to Iran and Iran’s longstanding anti-Semitic posture and objective to annihilate the State of Israel.

In a Times article, the White House offered a number of unconvincing arguments that suggest a deal with Iran is the best course of action. Unfortunately, the administration is not revealing pertinent information because it does not believe Americans are capable of understanding the gravity of the negotiations, or there are no strong factors supporting a deal.

The Times story is chock full of squishy comments by the administration and a number of contradictions. The purpose of the White House comments was to discredit Netanyahu by implying that he does not appreciate the process. This is a curious tact given Israel’s concerned about how Iran would use a nuclear in the region in the next year, in ten years and forever. The basis of the prime minister’s perspective is Israeli intelligence on the matter, which is likely more substantive than U.S. information.

The U.S. stated that Netanyahu “has failed to present a feasible alternative [to the American proposals, which are current not known in any detail].” Really? Israel wants to ensure that Iran never has a nuclear weapon, which was the original intent of the U.S., if memory serves me correct. Obama is just not listening to Netanyahu or anyone else that would interfere with his deal to improve relations with a mortal enemy of America.

The U.S. indicated, “that even an imperfect agreement that kept Iran’s nuclear efforts frozen for an extensive period was preferable to a breakdown in talks . . .” When dealing with nuclear proliferation, imperfect treaties are could be deadly. If the U.S. objective is no nukes for Iran, this deal does not make sense.

“The alternative to not having a new treaty is losing inspections.” This comment is contradicted in two other parts of the story. Iran has not answered “a dozen questions by the Atomic Energy Agency about the ‘possible military dimensions’ of Iran’s program.” And, “last week Iran stonewalled inspectors on answering most of [their] questions.” Clearly, Iran is not cooperating before the deal is signed, meaning that it will not cooperate afterwards either. Without verification of compliance, Iran will be free to do many things in secrecy.

The balance of the article addresses time schedules and how quickly Iran could develop a bomb if it opts out of a treaty. This all nonsense. The Obama administration is prepared to give Iran the ability to produce a bomb in about ten years, or sooner if it cheats. Congress should trash this proposal and step up sanctions against Iran until it agrees to indefinitely defer its nuclear ambitions. This would benefit the Middle East, Israel, Sunnis in the region and the U.S.

Iran Cannot Be Trusted With A Nuclear Weapon

By Sal Bommarito

A New York Times story about Secretary of State John Kerry’s testimony to a Senate committee is anything but comforting. Kerry is essentially the chief negotiator in talks with Iran about restricting its ability to build a nuclear weapon. Additionally, Kerry is the chief responder to the objections of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu relating to said nuclear discussions.

The implication of the Iran nuclear negotiations is the most important issue facing the U.S. and the Middle East, far outdistancing ISIS. It appears that the administration is intent on striking a deal and suddenly foisting it on Congress for approval without giving our lawmakers a chance to study the terms or debate them.

One particular comment in the Times article is particularly striking: “A major American goal in negotiating an accord is to slow the Iranian nuclear program to the point that it would take Iran at least a year to produce enough fuel for a nuclear weapon if it decided to ‘break out’ of the accord.”

I thought the original objective was to never allow Iran to develop a nuclear device, not to just delay its development by one year. The implication is that the U.S. might take military action during this period of time. This is not a good idea. Iran cannot be trusted to live up to any agreement, and they cannot be trusted to be a responsible nuclear power.

Iran has been a mortal enemy of the U.S. ever since the Shah was deposed in the 1970s. Radical Islamic fundamentalists orchestrated a take over of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1979 and held Americans hostage for 444 days, just as Ronald Reagan was sworn in as president. Since then, Iran has sponsored many terrorist organizations that have destabilized the region.

Iran’s development of a nuclear weapon in the near future is without a doubt one of the most dangerous contingencies for the Middle East, far greater than ISIS. Will Iran use this new power to bully its neighbors and antagonize Israel and Saudi Arabia, its worst enemies? No doubt.

The President is trying to deal with a nation that hates America and wishes to exterminate the State of Israel. Is this something Obama wants to do to solidify his already crumbling legacy? Is putting the Middle East in mortal danger a sensible foreign policy move?

The optimum strategy in Iran would be to continue economic sanctions and effectively bankrupt the country. Lower oil prices together with crushing trading restrictions will create great internal strife in Iran and either lead to a more conciliatory Iranian government or a civil war. If Iran needs to contend with domestic problems perhaps it will be less intrusive into the affairs of other Arab nations.

The Obama administration is secretly trying to sign an accord with the vilest country in the Middle East. These overtures are going to backfire, or Congress will oppose inane treaties. Radical Muslims will not honestly negotiate with America. Promises, accords, pacts and treaties mean nothing to them.

The Middle East Will Be Safer If Iran Cannot Negotiate A Nuclear Agreement

By Sal Bommarito

The New York Times reported that President Hassan Rouhan came out swinging and criticized nuclear-armed nations on Wednesday. Naturally, he focused on the U.S. and Israel for being hypocritical about Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

Considering that Rouhan was chosen to deal with Iran’s detractors and to negotiate a nuclear agreement with the United Nations Security Council, it was surprising that the president spoke so aggressively, especially since a deal is in the balance. In his speech, the Iranian leader indicated that his country does not “covet” nuclear weapons. This is the principal focus of the negotiations that are underway. Iran, he said, would use its nuclear capabilities only for peaceful purposes, a comment most do not believe.

Rouhan pointed out that several countries have nuclear weapons, and these weapons have not enabled any country to find peace. [This is a reference to the U.S. Even with its vast arsenal, it is always involved in conflict.] The U.S. has not actually used a nuclear weapon since World War II, and it has reduced the size of its inventory dramatically over time. The threat of a nuclear attack assisted the U.S. as it fended off the U.S.S.R during the Cold War.

Israel has never confirmed that it has nuclear weapons, but the Arms Control Association, a research group, says Israel has between 100 to 200 nuclear warheads.

It is likely that Rouhan was reacting to the grumbling by hawkish leaders and clerics in Iran. He wanted to assure his countrymen that he will negotiate assertively with the U.S. Additionally, he may be frustrated by difficult negotiations that are underway, and the possibility they will not be successful.

U.S. senators on both sides of the aisle have indicated that they are skeptical that any sensible agreement will evolve from the current negotiations. In fact, the Senate is ready to propose sanctions against Iran if a deal is not signed by March 24. The Security Council “has given themselves until [the same date] to reach the basics of a permanent agreement.”

The countries most interested in the negotiations, outside of the Security Council, are Israel and Saudi Arabia. Israel considers a nuclear Iran an existential threat. It is lobbying the U.S., the president and Congress to not provide flexibility to Iran regarding its nuclear program, and to increase sanctions.

Saudi Arabia has a similar attitude about Iran’s nuclear program, but it has been much less vocal. Iran is always at loggerheads with Saudi Arabia in their fight for dominance of the Arab world. If Iran produces a nuclear weapon, the Saudis will likely buy one. An arms race will ensue.

Some have argued that if other countries have nuclear arms, why shouldn’t Iran? These same people say that Iran will be responsible. On what basis? Given Iran’s attitude and disruptive behavior over the years, there is no reason to assume that it will not misuse a nuclear weapon, or wield it to bully other Arab nations.

Many observers are wondering why this agreement is such a high priority for President Obama, including a vast number of Americans. There are few nations in the region, if any, that are comfortable with the thought of a nuclear Iran.

Obama’s Inappropriate Relationships With Arab Nations

By Sal Bommarito

President Obama is finding himself on the wrong side of several critical issues in the Middle East. They include his ambivalence towards Egypt under its new secular president, encouragement of secret negotiations that may lead to an Iranian nuclear capability and animosity towards the State of Israel and its Prime Minister.

 

The Counter Jihad Report” discussed a speech by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in which he “attacks the root causes of continuing conflict between certain adherents of Islam and freedom-loving secularists . . .”

 

The Muslim Brotherhood, a theocratic based political group, took control of the country in 2012 under the leadership of former President Mohammed Morsi. He was subsequently deposed in 2014 by el-Sisi, a secular leader, who imprisoned his predecessor along with many of his followers.

 

President Obama has been supportive of the Muslim Brotherhood. In 2009, he made a speech at the University of Cairo and lauded President Morsi and his organization. Since Morsi’s incarceration, Obama “has seemingly turned his back on Egypt . . .”

 

“It is truly fascinating that here is the one leader in the Muslim world who has the courage not only to confront the enemy, but also its ideology.” El-Sisi has been “calling out Islamists and the clerics, mullahs [and] imams who are causing strife globally.” Yet, Obama has not been responsive to him.

 

“ . . . we cannot shy away from defining this enemy . . . It is unbelievable that anyone would refer to the Islamic terrorists who wrought savage carnage this week [in Paris] as activists.”

 

At the same time, President Obama is staunchly defiant of Congress’ suggestion that more conditional sanctions against Iran should be enacted. In fact, he threatened to veto any laws to that effect during his State of the Union address.

 

Many in Congress, including powerful Democrats such as Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) are uncomfortable with negotiations relating to the development of an Iranian nuclear weapon. The president believes that his closed-door meetings will be negatively impacted if Congress moves to introduce new sanctions. The opposition to these negotiations does not believe Iran can be trusted, and the country has been an impediment to peace in the region.

 

On a related note, the New York Times reports that Iran’s supreme leader released a letter to “youths in the United States and Europe imploring them to learn about Islam from original sources . . .” The Ayatollah is concerned about the image of Islam on the heels of the Charlie Hebdo attack. The cleric indicated, “ . . . researchers and historians are deeply ashamed of the bloodshed wrought in the name of religion between the Catholics and Protestants or in the name of nationality and ethnicity during [WWII].” The intent of the letter was to transfer blame for current hostilities to the west.

 

Obama is determined to appease Iran during the negotiations even as the vast majority of Americans and Congress are becoming more uncomfortable with the potential of Iran having a nuclear weapon.

 

Israel considers the development of nuclear capability by Iran to be an existential problem. It is inconceivable that any person could come to another conclusion, particularly the man who is the leader of Israel’s most important ally. Time and again, Obama has not supported Israel to assure its survival. His attitude has made the Jewish state all the more vulnerable during his tenure.

 

In an act of defiance, Congress invited Prime Minister Netanyahu to address the body without endorsement of the administration. The story is reported in the New York Times. The topics dearest to Netanyahu are Iran, its ambition to have a nuclear weapon and implementation of more sanctions. The Prime Minister’s appearance flies in the face of the president who objects to any interference of his negotiations with Iran.

 

The writing is on the wall. President Obama is regularly kowtowing to the interests of Muslim countries that are hostile to the U.S. It is a mystery why he has adopted this tactic. We should expect Congress to delve deeply into Obama’s motivations in the months ahead and to obstruct many of his initiatives.

 

President Obama’s diplomacy relating to the Islamic world needs to be vetted by his critics. Apologists of the president should stand aside and give politicians and leaders who disagree with Obama a chance to express their views.

Iran’s Nuclear Program And ISIS

By Sal Bommarito

The New York Times reports that a major breakthrough is possible in the negotiations with Iran regarding its nuclear energy program.

This development could be critical not only for the safety of the Middle East, but also for the ISIS crisis. If a deal can be struck that prevents Iran from using its uranium to build a weapon, the world will be safer. If this situation is rectified, it opens the possibility that Iran could become a productive member of the coalition fighting ISIS.

Now the bad news. The U.S. and Russia have not been as antagonistic towards each other since the Cold War ended. Russia is currently invading Ukraine, and the U.S. led a successful effort to implement economic sanctions in protest. The competition between the two super powers has reached an apex.

The U.S.’s status in the world has been greatly impacted by its ambivalent diplomacy. Frankly, most nations are skeptical about the U.S.’s integrity and willingness to keep promises made to its allies. This attitude is particularly prevalent in the Middle East where much of the trouble is brewing.

Perhaps Iran can live with a program in which its uranium is shipped to Russia and converted into fuel rods that can only be used for peaceful purposes. A plethora of other issues need to be settled before a deal is consummated, including the number of permitted centrifuges, the fate of a heavy-water reactor that produces plutonium and the inspection process.

Most important are the differing endgames of the U.S., Iran and Russia. Neither the U.S. nor Russia wants Iran to possess a nuclear weapon; Iran has not agreed to comply. Russia wants to assess Iran exorbitant fees to convert the uranium; the U.S. is not excited about any new programs that benefit the Russian economy. Russia would like to become more engaged in the Middle East; the U.S. certainly does not want yet another antagonist disrupting the region. The U.S. must be concerned with Israel reacting aggressively about the chances of Iran developing a nuclear weapon.

It is highly likely that negotiations relating to Iran’s role in fighting ISIS will spill over into the nuclear discussions. This is problematic because it may influence the U.S. to make a very bad long-term decision for a short-term benefit. Moreover, the Obama administration is so hungry for a diplomatic success that it might agree to something that will have disastrous consequences.

We should be enthusiastic about new negotiations that could decrease nuclear proliferation. However, it is too early to celebrate because the U.S. must deal with some very devious adversaries.

Iran Nuclear Discussions Will Impact The ISIS Crisis

By Sal Bommarito

Buried in the New York Times today is a story about the current negotiations with Iran relating to its nuclear program. The importance of these discussions cannot be overstated.

The Obama administration, the article suggests, is attempting to exclude Congress from the deliberations, possibly creating yet another constitutional crisis if the administration agrees to eliminate economic sanctions. The president cannot sign a treaty without Senate approval, but he can, in the short term, decrease or eliminate economic sanctions against Iran. This could be his tactic even though the Senate voted 99-0 to install the current sanctions. Neither political party would be happy about being excluded from such an important diplomatic event.

Development of a nuclear weapon by the Iranian regime would destabilize the Middle East, and represent an existential threat to Israel, all Sunni states and even ISIS, should it eventually create its own country. Allowing Iran to build a nuclear weapon now or any time in the foreseeable future would be a dangerous mistake.

The global community is for the most part not in favor of another rogue nation developing a nuclear capacity. Iran has proven time and again that its political and religious aspirations are not benign by any measure. A nuclear weapon would severely tilt the tenuous balance in the region.

A U.S. decision to terminate sanctions against Iran if it agrees only to “defer” the enrichment of material needed to make a weapon could impact diplomatic conversations relating to ISIS. Despite Iran’s proximity to ISIS forces and the likelihood it will become an active target of the terrorists, Iran has not been overtly involved in the hostilities. It is inconceivable that Iran will not somehow attempt to link its engagement with ISIS to a relaxation or elimination of sanctions and increased latitude to pursue its nuclear vision.

Many believe economic sanctions are having a profound impact on Iran’s economy. And, the continuing implementation of sanctions lessens the possibility that someday the U.S will need to bomb Iran to prevent it from building a nuclear weapon. So, decreasing the leverage afforded by the sanctions at any time is unwise.

All this speaks to the utter disdain Obama has towards Congress and his questionable judgment relating to the diplomatic and military tactics being used in the ISIS conflict.