Morton Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America issued the following statement:
The Obama administration’s unlawful lifting of critical banking, shipping, oil, steel, and other sanctions on Iran this past weekend – despite the radical terrorist Islamic regime of Iran’s string of violations and continuing genocidal ambitions since the Iran deal’s inception – is the biggest nightmarish policy mistake since Chamberlain’s Munich deal with Adolph Hitler. This travesty severely endangers the U.S., Israel, and world. The administration’s ending of sanctions was compounded by the administration’s announcement this weekend that the U.S. will also pay Iran an additional $1.7 billion settlement (including $1.3B interest) – thereby further enriching the terrorist Islamic Republic and enhancing its ability to foment Islamic terror. The U.S.’s leading role in vastly enriching the world’s leading financier of terror this past weekend was the culmination of the Obama administration’s long line of actions empowering the radical terrorist Iranian regime – including leaking and thwarting multiple Israeli plans to remove the Iranian nuclear threat, delaying and opposing Congressional efforts to impose sanctions on Iran, and engaging in secret negotiations to allow Iran to enrich uranium while falsely telling the American public that the U.S. would not enter into a deal that permitted Iran to enrich uranium.
President Obama also announced this weekend that the U.S. is releasing and granting clemency to six convicted Iranian-Americans and one convicted Iranian in what the President termed “a reciprocal humanitarian gesture” – in exchange for Iran’s release of four Americans unjustly held hostage by Iran who are innocent of any wrongdoing. Moreover, in this lopsided exchange, Iran failed to release or reveal the location of ex-CIA worker Robert Levinson – now missing for 8 years. Levinson served the U.S. military for decades, and is the only Jewish American being held by Iran.
In his statement yesterday (Sunday January 17), President Obama portrayed these developments as a “good day” and omitted mentioning the extent to which Iran will benefit from lifting sanctions (and also never mentioned the amount of the U.S.’s settlement payment to Iran). Iran will receive an estimated $150 billion windfall Iran in unfrozen funds plus hundreds of billions of dollars more in business deals. Iran is already the biggest funder of Islamic terrorism around the globe, and will surely use the newly released funds to greatly intensify worldwide Islamic terror attacks, and to exponentially increase the missiles and hundreds of millions of dollars per year that Iran already provides to Islamic terrorist groups, including Hezbollah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Houthis in Yemen, and Iranian proxy terrorist cells in South America and in the U.S. Iran will also surely use its windfall to modernize its huge conventional armed forces, continue to test and enhance its missile capabilities (including long- and medium-range missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads), and destabilize the Middle East – including by increasing Iran’s aggression towards the Gulf states and continuing to prop up the brutal Assad regime in Syria, leading more Syrians to flee, and adding to the refugee crises.
Neither the Iran deal nor the release of hundreds of billions of dollars to Iran has or will change Iran’s genocidal policies or meaningfully slow down their ability to develop nukes one iota. On July 18, 2015 – just four days after the Iran deal was announced – Supreme Leader Khamenei stated that despite the deal, Iran’s policies against the “arrogant” U.S. won’t change, and led crowds in screaming “Death to America” and Death to Israel.” As U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) Director Lt. General Michael Flynn testified before Congress on June 10, 2015, Iran’s desire to destroy Israel is “very real,” and Iran’s fighters have “killed and maimed thousands of Americans and Iraqis.”
In October and November 2015, Iran tested long-range high-precision ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear payloads, in violation of applicable U.N. Security Council resolutions, including UN Resolution 1929. A recent Congressional Research Service (CRS)report (Dec. 29, 2015) explained that according to estimates by U.S. officials and reports, “Iran is steadily expanding its missile and rocket inventories and has “boosted the lethality and effectiveness of existing systems with accuracy improvements and new sub-munition payloads.” Director of National Intelligence Clapper testified in February 2015, that the intelligence community assesses that “Iran’s ballistic missiles are inherently capable of delivering WMD [weapons of mass destruction].””
The CRS report also cited worsening relations with Iran on certain regional issues since the Iran deal was finalized. In addition to Iran’s illegitimate missile tests, the CRS report explained that: “Iran has also increased its involvement in the Syria conflict in support of President Bashar Al Assad of Syria, whose brutal tactics against domestic armed opponents is, according to U.S. officials, fueling support for the Islamic State organization with brutal tactics. Iran’s actions have strengthened the assertions of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC: Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE, Bahrain, Qatar, and Oman) and other U.S. allies such as Israel that the JCPOA will furnish Iran with additional political and financial resources to expand its regional influence.”
The CRS report also discussed Iran’s serious abuses of human rights, “including unjust executions, politically motivated abductions by security forces, torture, and arbitrary arrest and detention” and Iran’s refusal to permit the UN to conduct human rights fact-finding missions in Iran. And the CRS report was issued prior to Iran’s most recent outrageous provocations occurred or were publicly reported – including seizing and humiliating ten American sailors on January 12 2016, and firing rockets on December 26, 2015 that passed within 1500 yards of two U.S. and one French naval ship in the Strait of Hormuz. The U.S. warships were assisting airstrikes against ISIS.
The Iran deal implementation and sanctions relief will not prevent Iran from realizing its nuclear ambitions. As DIA Director Flynn testified, Iran has “every intention” of building a nuclear weapon. The Iran deal’s weak inspections regime and lack of “anywhere, anytime” inspections, 24-day or longer delays to potentially obtain inspections of suspected nuclear activities and nuclear sites, expiration dates on restrictions, authorization of Iran to continue enriching uranium in 6,000 spinning centrifuges, replacement of highly enriched uranium with uranium that can also be enriched, secret side deals, and the voluntary nature of the deal’s key provisions – reveal that the Iran deal is essentially a sham. In his statement yesterday, President Obama claimed that the Iran deal extends “break out” time from two to three months to a year. Even if this were so, that’s not much comfort.
Sanctions relief – and the weaponry that Iran will purchase with its windfall – will lead to nuclear and non-nuclear proliferation throughout the Middle East.
The administration’s lifting of sanctions is also unlawful as well as frighteningly dangerous. The administration failed to meet the legal requirements for lifting nuclear sanctions set forth in the Iran Nuclear Review Act of 2015, Public Law 114-17, enacted on May 22, 2015 (the “Review Act,” also known as “Corker-Cardin”). The Review Act required the U.S. President to transmit to the appropriate congressional committees and leadership, inter alia, an agreement or plan of action reached with Iran, including all side agreements, within five (5) days of reaching the agreement, plus certain verifications and certifications. The Obama administration failed to transmit the IAEA-Iranian side deals (regarding inspections of Iran’s Parchin military complex and possible military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program) within the required five days. In fact, the administration never provided the side deals to Congress, despite Senator Tom Cotton (R-Ark)’s and Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS)’s requests for the side agreements after discovering these secret side deals’ existence, and learned from the IAEA that the Obama administration had agreed that the IAEA and Iran would forge separate arrangements. As a Washington Post Op Ed noted: “In fact, the Obama administration’s failure to transmit these side deals to Congress is a violation of the law.” The failure to transmit the side deals also violated Corker-Cardin’s verification assessment requirements.
Moreover, Iran has never even signed the Iran deal – and Iran’s parliament “approved” a completely different version of the deal that Iran re-wrote – not the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. Iran’s “deal” calls for an end to Israel’s nuclear program (not Iran’s nuclear program), forbids inspections of Iranian military sites, calls on Iran to strengthen its military and missile arsenal, and makes conversion of enriched uranium conditional. As Amir Taheri aptly predicted, “Obama Will Be the Only Person Sticking to the Iran Deal.”
Moreover, both the lifting of sanctions and the U.S. settlement payment to Iran ignore – and make it more difficult for American victims of Iranian terror to collect the huge unpaid judgments that Iran owes to them. While the U.S. is settling and paying Iran’s claims against the U.S. and authorizing the release of billions of frozen funds to Iran, Iran is still opposing paying the billions of dollars of valid judgments obtained by American victims of Iranian terror. This past Wednesday (January 13), in Bank Markazi v. Peterson, Iran’s government-owned central bank, Bank Markazi, asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act of 2012. The 2012 law helps victims of terrorist attacks collect judgments against Iran, including the $2.65 billion judgment won by the estates of 241 American servicemen murdered by Iran’s proxy Hezbollah when Hezbollah – with Iran’s material support – bombed the U.S. marine barracks in Beirut in 1983. A Congressional Research Report in November 2015 also explained that after over three decades, the 52 Americans held hostage by Iran for 444 days in 1979-1981 have “never received any compensation from Iran through court actions.”
In sum, lifting sanctions on Iran is a colossal, catastrophic, nightmarish mistake. Years from now historians will be as shocked by this diplomatic insanity as they are by the Chamberlain/Hitler agreement. But there is one important difference that makes this agreement even more shocking. Hitler repeatedly falsely proclaimed he wanted peace, while Iran’s Khamenei repeatedly proclaims he wants to destroy America and Israel and the West.