This Shouldn’t Surprise Anyone

Yesterday One America News reported that the Iranian Presidency, President Hassan Rouhani warned European partners in its faltering nuclear deal on Wednesday that Tehran will increase its enrichment of uranium to “any amount that we want” beginning on Sunday, putting pressure on them to offer a way around intense U.S. sanctions targeting the country.

This is called nuclear blackmail. It is the technique that Iran would have used when the limits on their uranium production ended as provided in the nuclear treaty. First of all, does anyone actually believe that Iran was following the rules of the treaty to begin with? Note that the treaty did not allow inspections of all probable uranium enrichment sites.

The article reports:

The hike will put the country above the limits set by the 2015 nuclear deal made with six major world powers. President Trump pulled out that deal, saying the country was showing no intention of abiding by the agreement.

Earlier this week, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani teased their latest move, threatening to violate the terms of the 2015 agreement.

“We will increase the cap to whatever level we deem is essential for us and to a level that we need, you must also know that if you do not fulfill all your obligations to us under the agreement and in the agreed time frame, then from July 7th the nuclear reactor will return to its previous activity,” Rouhani said.

Iranian state media said, the Ayotollah regime will officially make the announcement on Sunday.

The only way to end the danger of the Iranian quest to be a nuclear power is to increase the sanctions to the point where there is a change of leadership in Iran. Many of the Iranians who thought they were fighting for freedom in 1978 were very disillusioned by the government that followed the revolution. A free Iran would be considerably less dangerous to the world than the current totalitarian Islamic state.

The Unraveling Continues

Yesterday John Solomon posted an article at The Hill about a Russian billionaire named Oleg Deripaska.

The article reports:

The oligarch who once controlled Russia’s largest aluminum empire has been an international man of intrigue in the now-completed and disproven Trump collusion investigation.

Deripaska was a disaffected former business client of Donald Trump’s fallen campaign chairman Paul Manafort. He also was a legal research client of Trump-hating, Clinton-aiding British spy Christopher Steele. In his spare time, he was an occasional friendly cooperator with the FBI and its fired deputy director, Andrew McCabe.

During his interview with John Solomon, Deripaska talked about being interviewed by the FBI and stating the following:

“I told them straightforward, ‘Look, I am not a friend with him [Manafort]. Apparently not, because I started a court case [against him] six or nine months before … . But since I’m Russian I would be very surprised that anyone from Russia would try to approach him for any reason, and wouldn’t come and ask me my opinion,’ ” he said, recounting exactly what he says he told the FBI agents that day.

“I told them straightforward, I just don’t believe that he would represent any Russian interest. And knowing what he’s doing on Ukraine for the last, what, seven or eight years.”

The article explains why this is important:

OK, so why should you care if a Russian denied Trump campaign collusion with Russia during the election?

First, Deripaska wasn’t just any Russian. He was closely aligned with Putin and had been helpful to the FBI as far back as 2009. So he had earned some trust with the agents.

Most importantly, Deripaska’s interview with the FBI reportedly was never provided by Team Mueller to Manafort’s lawyers, even though it was potential proof of innocence, according to Manafort defense lawyer Kevin Downing. Manafort, initially investigated for collusion, was convicted on tax and lobbying violations unrelated to the Russia case.

That omission opens a possible door for appeal for what is known as a Brady violation, for hiding exculpatory information from a defendant.

“Recent revelations by The Hill prove that the Office of Special Counsel’s (OSC) claim that they had a legitimate basis to include Paul Manafort in an investigation of potential collusion between the Trump presidential campaign and the Russian government is false,” Downing told me. “The failure to disclose this information to Manafort, the courts, or the public reaffirms that the OSC did not have a legitimate basis to investigate Manafort, and may prove that the OSC had no legitimate basis to investigate potential collusion between the Trump presidential campaign and the Russian government.”

The article then explains why Deripaska is trusted by the FBI:

Deripaska confirmed a story I reported last year from FBI sources that he spent more than $20 million of his own money between 2009 and 2011 on a private rescue operation to free Robert Levinson, a retired FBI agent captured in Iran in 2007 while on a CIA mission.

…Deripaska said his privately funded rescue team came very close to a deal with the Iranian captors to secure Levinson’s release but he was told by his FBI handlers that the deal ran into difficulties at Hillary Clinton’s State Department and was scuttled. “I heard that some Russian ‘hand,’ or whatever you call people who are expert on the Russians at the State Department, [said], ‘We just don’t want to owe anything to this guy,’ ” Deripaska told me, adding that he never expected any U.S. favors for his personal efforts to free Levinson.

Asked if he thought the former FBI agent is alive, some dozen years later, Deripaska answered: “I don’t think so.” He pointed out that if Levinson had been alive, he likely would have come home in 2016, after the Obama administration struck a nuclear deal with Iran.

Deripaska said he is continuing to investigate what really happened at State with Levinson, as he tries to fight the sanctions levied against him in 2018. His company, Rusal, has been removed from the sanctions list.

The article concludes:

Throughout the interview, it was clear Deripaska chose his words in English carefully. But there was one word he offered only twice — once in response to the Steele dossier’s allegations of Trump-Russia collusion, and the other time to respond to the allegations used to sanction him. “Balderdash,” he insisted.

Now it’s time for Team Mueller to answer the same questions.

I wonder why the State Department would have blocked the return of Levinson. Is it possible that he might have said things that would have scuttled the Iran deal?

An Entirely Predictable Outcome

The Washington Free Beacon posted an article today about some recent statements by top Iranian leaders.

The article reports:

Top Iranian leaders issued a series of warnings on Tuesday, telling world leaders it is on the brink of restarting a significant portion of its most contested nuclear work, including the enrichment of uranium to prohibited levels that could be used as part of a weapons program.

With tensions mounting between the United States and Iran following a bevy on new sanctions issued by the Trump administration, Iranian leaders warned their counterparts in Europe that the country will begin to enrich uranium—the key component in a nuclear weapon—to levels needed for weapons research.

Iran also will begin to stockpile low-enriched uranium instead of shipping it out of the country, as it had been doing under the nuclear agreement. The Islamic Republic also will stop exporting its heavy water reserves, a nuclear byproduct that can provide a plutonium-based pathway to a weapon.

Both of these moves are enflaming global tension surrounding Iran’s nuclear program, which the country has used to receive billions in sanctions relief and cash windfalls as a result of the Obama administration’s accord. Iranian leaders insist that if Europe does not reject the new U.S. sanctions and help Tehran bypass them, they will stop adhering the nuclear deal, which several European counties are still party to.

Does anyone actually believe that Iran suspended its nuclear program while the treaty was in effect?

The article concludes:

Iran also is seeking to have its international oil trade restored.

The Trump administration, after a protracted inter-agency fight, decided last month to stop issuing sanctions waivers to several countries purchasing large amounts of Iranian crude oil. The removal of these waivers effectively killed Iran’s oil trade.

Keivan Khosravi, a spokesman for Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, said all banking and oil rights must be immediately restored or Tehran will continue with efforts to ramp up prohibited nuclear work.

“As the honorable president declared, concurrent with the SNSC statement, Iran will continue subsequent and staged steps to stop nuclear deal undertakings based on the UNSC statement until the status quo of its oil sales and banking transactions return to the conditions that prevailed before the U.S. withdrawal from the nuclear deal,” Khosravi wrote in a memo published Tuesday by Iran’s state-controlled press.

Translated loosely, this means that the sanctions are working and we need to leave them in place. If Iran does ramp up its nuclear program, we need another computer virus to slow it down. The reactor sites are hidden too deep underground to be bombed successfully, but an electronic attack on their computers and power grid would probably slow them down for a few years at least. The answer to the problem of a nuclear Iran is an Iran not controlled by the mullahs. That is a possibility as the younger generation tends to lean toward western ideas, but those that make those tendencies known wind up in prison or dead. Iran needs another revolution. The sanctions and the economic hardship they cause make that revolution a possibility.

One thing I believe we need to consider is a lesson learned in recent years about setting up democracies in places that do not understand freedom. It seems that in order to create a free county, you need brave men of integrity willing to lead a revolution and fight for freedom for all people. You can’t come in and just plant a democracy. Planting a democracy is somewhat like helping a baby chick hatch–the baby chick needs the hatching process to gain the strength to survive. If you help a baby chick hatch, it will not survive. It seems that in recent years we have learned that democracies have the same problem–they have to do their own hatching. When the work is done for them, the wrong leaders rise and the people gain new despots–they don’t gain freedom.