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Cause for Alarm? China Put in Charge of Iranian Nuclear Site

China and Iran have signed a deal to modify an integral part of the latter’s nuclear program at the Arak heavy water nuclear site. The news comes just one day after the Trump administration certified that Iran has committed to its responsibilities under the nuclear agreement signed by the former Obama administration and the Iranian regime in 2015. On the same day that President Trump verified Iran’s compliance in the agreement, the Iranian Supreme Leader declared the United States an “enemy” nation.

A heavy water plant is an essential element in producing the material needed to developing a nuclear weapons program. Iran insists that the Arak reactor is purposed with producing “isotopes for cancer and other medical treatments.” However, heavy water reactors are needed to cool down reactors that churn out plutonium, which can be used to create a nuclear bomb.

The Arak plant was uncovered thanks to 2002 satellite images from the Institute for Science and International Security.

As part of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) agreed to by Iran and world powers, Iran is supposed to modify the heavy water reactor so it could not produce weapons-grade plutonium.

Whether the United States can trust China to lead the project is a matter of concern. Most geopolitical observer recognize that China views Iran as an ally and the United States as an adversary.

Moreover, China has previously helped supply the Iranian regime with nuclear material and advanced missile technology that would have been otherwise likely impossible to produce internally. Since the early 80s, the Chinese government has clandestinely and overtly helped the Mullahs develop their nuclear program.

International agencies such as the United Nations have been tasked with verifying compliance. No American inspectors are allowed on any of the Iranian nuclear sites, thanks to terms agreed to by the Obama administration. Therefore, whether or not Iran is cheating on the nuke deal is left completely to foreign bodies.

Iran has already breached the material limits used by the nuclear reactor that were imposed under the JCPOA. The IAEA, the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog, said Tehran exceeded the limit twice last year.

Beijing is looking forward to beginning the project. “The signing of this contract will create good conditions for substantively starting the redesign project,” said China Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang. (For more from the author of “Cause for Alarm? China Put in Charge of Iranian Nuclear Site” please click HERE)

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Trump Lets Iran off the Hook … For Now

By certifying Tehran’s compliance in the Iran nuclear deal for at least the next 90 days, President Trump is sending mixed messages about an agreement he famously called the “worst deal ever.”

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson sent a letter to Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., Tuesday confirming that the Trump administration will continue to abide by the agreement made by the Obama administration with the world’s foremost state sponsor of terror.

“The U.S. Department of State certified to U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan today that Iran is compliant through April 18th with its commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action,” the letter read.

Tillerson also “raised concerns about Iran’s role as a state sponsor of terrorism and alerted Congress to an effort directed by the President to evaluate whether continuing to lift sanctions would be in U.S. national security interests,” a press statement said.

Additionally, President Trump has directed the National Security Council to review whether the deal is “vital to the national security interests of the United States.”

Dealing with Iran comes with its downsides. The country remains a vital threat to global security.

Iran’s worldwide terror scheme involves arming and support of Palestinian terrorist outfits such as Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hamas. The regime also utilizes its proxy terror group Hezbollah to disrupt order and kill innocents in Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon. Hezbollah also participates in the global drug trade in order to boost relationships with western drug cartels and help fund the caliphatist endeavors of Tehran. Iran also funds and arms countless militias and jihadist outfits in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and elsewhere.

Additionally, the Institute for Science and International Security, which has been very skeptical about the Iran deal, has urged caution on moving forward with judgement on the president’s decision. They say that certification should be seen as a “tactical decision” to buy more time for a further review.

During his campaign for the presidency, Trump described the deal as the “worst deal ever negotiated.” He has used strong language in speaking out against the deal.

The president has the authority to unilaterally end the Iran deal, but he has instead chosen to give the Mullahs 90 more days. The Iran deal is not legally binding and can be dismissed immediately. Why the president has so radically changed from his initial anti-Iran deal platform remains a mystery unsolved, as the president has consistently spoken out publicly against the deal.

It remains unclear how the Trump administration will be able to wholly certify Iran’s compliance. A similar process failed to reveal that Syria kept stockpiles of chemical weapons. Much of the review process relies upon outside agencies, such as the United Nations and Russia, to confirm compliance. (For more from the author of “Trump Lets Iran off the Hook … For Now” please click HERE)

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Saber-Rattling: Russia and Iran Express Rage at US Strikes in Syria

The Russian and Iranian regimes are furious with America’s retaliatory strike against Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad following his use of weapons of mass destruction.

Last week, President Trump ordered a missile strike on the Syrian base that was reportedly used to launch a chemical weapons attack against an opposition stronghold in the city of Idlib. On Thursday, Trump launched 60 Tomahawk missiles at the base to retaliate against Assad killing of dozen of innocents men, women, and children earlier that week.

Russia and Iran, which are allied with Assad, condemned the military action, and threatened to retaliate if the U.S. “crosses the red lines” again.

Iranian dictator Ali Khamenei slammed the strikes, pushing the conspiracy that the U.S. apparently created the Islamic State terror group.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who presides over the world’s foremost state-sponsor of terrorism, condemned what he called “flagrant U.S. aggression,” and said the strike on the airbase in Syria “benefitted terrorism.” Rouhani also alleged that the Syrian opposition was behind the chemical attacks, not the Assad dictatorship.

“Previous US officials created ISIS, and the current ones are strengthening ISIS or groups like them; however, the danger these terrorist groups present will backfire on Americans,” he said.

Russian autocrat Vladimir Putin teamed up with Rouhani for an additional memo that claimed the strike was “a violation of international law.”

Another statement sent by the “joint command” of Russia and Iran threatened military action against the United States.

“The United States crossed red lines by attacking Syria, from now on we will respond to anyone, including America if it attacks Syria and crosses the red lines,” the statement said. “America knows very well our ability and capabilities to respond well to them … we will respond without taking into consideration any reaction and consequences.”

Russia and Iran have long sided with the Assad regime over opposition forces. Both countries have ground troops in the country fending off threats to Assad. Iran’s Hezbollah proxy is also heavily militarily engaged in the country on the side of the Syrian dictatorship.

Russia and Iran are largely responsible for escalating the complete devastation and chaos in Syria. The two nations have propped up a man who has been responsible for the vast majority of the hundreds of thousands of deaths during the Syrian civil war. Without their help, there’s likely no possibility that Assad would have been able to stay in power.

Russia and Iran’s tough talk should be taken with a grain of salt. The two countries combined have a military that is vastly inferior to that of the United States. It is certainly not in their interests to use kinetic action against America. To attack the United States military, even if framed as a “retaliatory” strike, would draw the two U.S. adversaries into a conflict that would undoubtedly threaten the stability of both authoritarian regimes. (For more from the author of “Saber-Rattling: Russia and Iran Express Rage at US Strikes in Syria” please click HERE)

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GOP-Led Congress Looks to Protect Israel and Check Iranian Power

Aiming to prove their commitment to Israel, senior U.S. lawmakers are backing bipartisan legislation that would slap Iran with new sanctions while maintaining rigorous enforcement of the landmark nuclear deal.

The measures, unveiled at the opening of the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference, seek to build consensus among Republicans and Democrats who are so often bitterly at odds on domestic issues. The AIPAC meeting continues Tuesday with appearances by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

During Monday’s session, House Speaker Paul Ryan declared the U.S. commitment to Israel “sacrosanct.” Ryan also derided the nuclear deal an “unmitigated disaster” that gives Iran “a patient pathway to a nuclear weapons capability.” (Read more from “GOP-Led Congress Looks to Protect Israel and Check Iranian Power” HERE)

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Iran Deal Architect Is Now Running Tehran Policy at the State Department

A trusted Obama aide who once worked for an alleged Iranian regime lobbying group is one of the individuals in charge of Iran policy planning at the State Department under Secretary Rex Tillerson.

Sahar Nowrouzzadeh, the Iran director for former President Obama’s National Security Council (NSC), has burrowed into the government under President Trump. She’s now in charge of Iran and the Persian Gulf region on the policy planning staff at the State Department.

To make matters worse, Nowrouzzadeh is a former employee of the National Iranian-American Council (NIAC), a non-profit that is accused of being a lobbying group for the Iranian regime. NIAC’s current president, Trita Parsi, has long held close relationships with top officials in the Tehran dictatorship. In February, a group of over 100 prominent Iranian dissidents called for Congress to investigate NIAC’s ties to the Iranian regime.

One of Nowrouzzadeh’s primary duties under President Obama was to promote initiatives that pushed the Iran deal. As President Obama’s NSC director for Iran, Nowrouzzadeh sat in on high-level briefings along with President Obama, former VP Joe Biden, and former Secretary of State John Kerry, as top White House staff crafted false narratives on the Iran deal to sell to the American public.

According to the head of a state-run Iranian newspaper, Nowrouzzadeh was an essential element to pushing through the Iran deal. Editor-in-Chief Emad Abshenass said that she opened up a direct line of communication with the Iranian president’s brother. “She helped clear a number of contradictions and allowed the entire endeavor to succeed,” Abshenass said of her efforts.

Nowrouzzadeh’s advocacy for President Obama’s directives resulted in an agreement that has done enormous damage to the security interests of the United States and its allies. Iran, the world’s top sponsor of international terrorism, was gifted $150 billion dollars for agreeing to the deal. The deal will not restrict Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. In fact, the regime in Tehran may now have the operational capacity to deploy nuclear warheads within the next decade, according to expert estimates.

Towards the end of President Obama’s tenure, Nowrouzzadeh was embedded into the State Department and for a brief time served as its Persian language spokesperson.

In addition to Nowrouzzadeh, several other prominent Obama officials currently serve under Sec Tillerson at the State Department. A former John Kerry apprentice, Michael Ratney, occupies the Israeli-Palestinian portfolio there. Another trusted Obama aide, Yael Lempert, also serves under Tillerson on the same platform.

Why Secretary Tillerson has decided to keep on a chief Obama policy official remains unclear. The State Department did not return multiple requests for comment seeking additional information on Nowrouzzadeh’s role at the government agency. (For more from the author of “Iran Deal Architect Is Now Running Tehran Policy at the State Department” please click HERE)

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Report: Iranian Sleeper Cells Operating in U.S.

American intelligence agencies have growing evidence that the Iranian-backed Hezbollah terrorist group maintains a network of sleeper cells in the United States, according to a new report.

Though Hezbollah has not conducted a major attack on U.S. soil, the group could decide to strike key American sites should U.S.-Iran relations deteriorate substantially, according to the Investigative Project on Terrorism.

“Preparations to combat Islamist terrorism broadly should strongly consider the nuanced and growing Hezbollah threat to U.S. national security,” the report concludes.

Hezbollah or “the Party of God” is based in southern Lebanon and has long served as Iran’s way of Islamizing a formerly Christian country while also stoking the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and periodically launching rockets into northern Israel.

But the organization has other enemies besides Israel and should not be viewed within the narrow scope of the Arab-Israel conflict. (Read more from “Report: Iranian Sleeper Cells Operating in U.S.” HERE)

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Video Clip Shows IRGC Support for Terror in America

As Iran’s government claimed that the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) is widely known to be fighting terrorism in neighboring countries, a newly-emerged video clip purportedly shows an IRGC strategist threatening to unleash terror cells in the U.S., targeting nuclear missile launch facilities, among other things.

At a time when the Trump administration is considering listing the IRGC as a foreign terrorist organization, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said at the weekend U.S. efforts to sanction the organization have never benefited the U.S.

Zarif said the world at large agrees that the IRGC has extended the utmost support for neighboring countries in their fight against terrorism.

Iran is supporting Shi’a militias fighting alongside the Iraqi military against Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS/ISIL) jihadists. The IRGC is also heavily involved, in conjunction with Tehran’s Hezbollah allies and other Shi’a fighters, in supporting the Assad regime in the Syrian civil war, where combatants include Sunni nationalists, Kurds, Salafists, and ISIS and al-Qaeda affiliated jihadists.

The exiled Iranian opposition group National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) called Zarif’s claim that the IRGC fights terrorism “ridiculous.” (Read more from “Video Clip Shows IRGC Support for Terror in America” HERE)

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Iran Defeats U.S. Navy in Defiant Animated Film

A full-length animated film depicting an armed confrontation between Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and the U.S. Navy is soon to open in Iranian cinemas, amid rising tensions over President Donald Trump’s hardening rhetoric against Tehran.

The director of the “Battle of Persian Gulf II”, Farhad Azima, said that it was a remarkable coincidence that the release of the film – four years in the making – coincided with a “warmongering” president sitting in the White House.

“I hope that the film shows Trump how American soldiers will face a humiliating defeat if they attack Iran,” Azima told Reuters in a telephone interview from the city of Mashhad in eastern Iran.

The 88-minute animation opens with the U.S. Army attacking an Iranian nuclear reactor, and the U.S. Navy in the Gulf hitting strategic locations across the county.

The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), a powerful branch of the Iranian military, retaliates with full force, raining ballistic missiles on the U.S. warships. (Read more from “Iran Defeats U.S. Navy in Defiant Animated Film” HERE)

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New Terror Sanctions Would Strike at the Heart of Iran’s War Machine

President Donald Trump’s administration is mulling designating the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist organization, Reuters reports.

The IRGC is one military force of the Islamic Republic of Iran which reports directly to the supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei. The IRGC is charged with training and arming terrorist organizations like Hezbollah, and deploying troops to places like Syria or Iraq.

Trump’s order would not immediately designate the IRGC a terrorist organization, but would instead instruct the Department of State to review current policy. The Department of the Treasury in 2007 sanctioned elements of the IRGC “entities and individuals engaged in or supporting proliferation and terrorism.”

Trump’s order would likely rile Iran’s current ruling elite, further increasing tensions between the U.S. and Iran. Increased sanctions on Iran could even lead to Iran pulling out of the 2015 nuclear deal.

Trump also sanctioned Iran Friday for conducting missile tests in violation of United Nations sanctions in late January. Trump has repeatedly blamed the Obama administration for failing to curb Iran’s increasingly aggressive ballistic missile tests and nefarious activity after the signing of the 2015 nuclear deal. IRGC terrorist designation would also fit with National Security Advisor Mike Flynn’s warning that Iran is “on notice.” (Read more from “New Terror Sanctions Would Strike at the Heart of Iran’s War Machine” HERE)

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Trump Administration Slaps Sanctions on Iran for Missile Test and Other Provocations

The Trump administration followed through on Friday with a new round of sanctions on Iran, two days after National Security Advisor Michael Flynn announced that it was “officially putting Iran on notice” for a missile test and its hostile regional policies.

The sanctions were targeted at 13 individuals and 12 entities for their support for Iran’s ballistic missile program or for the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force, which has been designated under an executive order for providing material support to various terrorist groups, including Hezbollah and Hamas.

Those targeted under the sanctions cannot access the U.S. financial system or deal with U.S. companies. They also are subject to secondary sanctions, which would prohibit foreign companies and individuals from dealing with them or risk being blacklisted by the United States.

An anonymous senior U.S. official said Friday’s sanctions were an “initial step” in responding to Iran’s provocative behavior and would be followed by more steps if Iran continues on that path.

Iran’s Jan. 29 missile launch, which reportedly was tracked by at least one U.S. satellite, ended in an explosion after the missile travelled 630 miles, an apparent failure.

Some reports cited U.S. officials suggesting it was a Khoramshahr missile, which has yet to be displayed in public.

The German newspaper Die Welt cited intelligence sources who claimed that Iran also tested a nuclear-capable Sumar cruise missile that same day.

U.S. officials also charge that Iran has armed and assisted the Houthi rebel movement in Yemen, which reportedly launched a Jan. 30 attack by suicide bombers on a small boat that killed at least two sailors on a Saudi warship patrolling the Red Sea off Yemen’s coast.

Last October, a U.S. Navy destroyer, the USS Mason, was unsuccessfully targeted by two anti-shipping missiles launched from Yemen, which prompted the U.S. Navy to launch cruise missiles to destroy Houthi missile launch sites along the coast.

Friday’s sanctions announcement is the first concrete response by the Trump administration, pushing back against Iran’s latest provocations.

The Obama administration preferred to ignore Iranian missile tests and its malign regional activities because it sought to preserve the flawed nuclear agreement, which it considered a positive legacy. This only emboldened Iran.

President Donald Trump warned in a tweet on Friday:

Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister, responded on twitter that Tehran is “unmoved by threats” and will not stop its missile program.

Iran and the United States appear to be on a collision course, with more sanctions and perhaps military clashes on the horizon. (For more from the author of “Trump Administration Slaps Sanctions on Iran for Missile Test and Other Provocations” please click HERE)

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