Will Moving The Goalposts End Any Possibility Of A Deal?

Yesterday the Washington Free Beacon reported that negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program have bogged down over the issue of Iran’s stockpiles of enriched nuclear materials. Evidently at one point in the negotiations, Iran was willing to have those stockpiles shipped outside the country to Russia, but now Iran has changed its mind.

The article reports:

“The export of stocks of enriched uranium is not in our program, and we do not intend sending them abroad,” Abbas Araqchi, an Iranian negotiator and diplomat, was quoted as telling the country’s state-run press. “There is no question of sending the stocks abroad.”

A subsequent New York Times article claiming that discussions over the issue have hit a wall in the last day prompted the State Department to reveal that negotiations over the export of uranium have been stuck for quite some time.

“Contrary to the report in the New York Times, the issue of how Iran’s stockpile would be disposed of had not yet been decided in the negotiating room, even tentatively,” a senior State Department official told the Free Beacon on Monday. “There is no question that disposition of their stockpile is essential to ensuring the program is exclusively peaceful.”

The article also reports that the current roadblock represents a change in what Iran was willing to negotiate:

One source familiar with the talks told the Free Beacon that the Obama administration had been promising members of Congress that Iran would consent to export its uranium.

“Administration officials told lawmakers they’d get the Iranians to make a concession, then the Iranians refused to make that concession, and now the State Department is pretending they never expected anything anyway,” said the source.

“The White House briefed lawmakers and told them the Iranians were willing to ship out their stockpile,” the source said. “That was the whole justification for jacking up centrifuge numbers to 6,000. State Department spokespeople are basically gaslighting reporters by pretending otherwise.”

A second source in Europe familiar with the breakdown in discussions over the issue told the Free Beacon that Iran had previously expressed a willingness to export its uranium.

It is quite possible that Iran has concluded that President Obama is so desperate for an agreement that he will agree to anything. It is also quite possible that Iran figures that it will have enough time to complete its construction of at least one nuclear weapon before any sort of sanctions are placed on its economy. Neither option is particularly good. We need to remember that when Iran builds a nuclear weapon, peace in the Middle East will become highly unlikely. Iran without nuclear weapons has constantly taken actions to destabilize the region (and unfortunately to kill Americans in the region). We also need to remember that during these negotiations an American citizen, Pastor Saeed Abedini, has been kept in an Iranian prison because of his Christian faith. It is really unfortunate that the current leadership of America does not even have enough power to get one citizen out of a foreign prison.


The International Repercussions Of Allowing Iran To Go Nuclear

This post is based on two articles–one from the Washington Free Beacon and one from Power Line Blog. Because we live in a world where communication is almost instant and alliances have formed on various issues, anything America does is going to have some impact on those alliances. America does not exist in a vacuum, and decisions made by our leaders impact our relationships with other countries. Such is the case with the current deal between America and Iran regarding Iran’s development of nuclear weapons. Our current administration may not believe the threat of a nuclear Iran. They may feel that Iran does not have the desire or the technology to damage America even if it does go nuclear. The constant shouts of “Death to America” by Iranian leaders might contradict that idea, but it seems to be the current idea. However, other countries in the Middle East and Europe do not necessarily share America’s lack of concern.

The Washington Free Beacon posted an article yesterday about France’s concern for the pending agreement between America and Iran.

The article reports:

Efforts by the Obama administration to stem criticism of its diplomacy with Iran have included threats to nations involved in the talks, including U.S. allies, according to Western sources familiar with White House efforts to quell fears it will permit Iran to retain aspects of its nuclear weapons program.

A series of conversations between top American and French officials, including between President Obama and French President Francois Hollande, have seen Americans engage in behavior described as bullying by sources who spoke to the Washington Free Beacon.

The disagreement over France’s cautious position in regard to Iran threatens to erode U.S. relations with Paris, sources said.

Tension between Washington and Paris comes amid frustration by other U.S. allies, such as Saudi Arabia and Israel. The White House responded to this criticism by engaging in public campaigns analysts worry will endanger American interests.

The Power Line Blog article, posted yesterday, reports:

Iran is demanding that Saudi Arabia immediately halt airstrikes in Yemen. According to WFB reporter Adam Kredo, “the issue could complicate the talks, as the United States attempts to balance its regional alliance with Iran in Iraq against competing interests with traditional allies in Saudi Arabia.”

The Saudi bombing in Yemen is intended to prevent forces aligned with Iran from bringing down what’s left of an American-backed government. But who can doubt that, for Obama, getting a deal, almost any deal, with Iran trumps backing U.S. interests in Yemen?

If the Saudis stick to their guns in Yemen, and the Iranians insist that Yemen is a deal-breaker, the deal could fall through. Alternatively, the U.S. could simply make more concessions to the mullahs as compensation for the dastardly action taken by the Saudis to support an American-backed government in a terrorist-infected state.

President Obama has his roots in community organizing–not diplomacy. He has done serious damage to America’s image around the world. He is bullying our friends and pampering our enemies. He has not supported freedom (for example, the green revolution in Iran). While he was willing to risk American soldiers’ lives to free a soldier charged with desertion, he has not been willing to put pressure on Iran to release an American pastor who is in prison there. Saeed Abedini has been in prison in Iran (for being a Christian) since 2012. The Pastor is an American citizen. Why is President Obama negotiating with Iran while this America is in jail? Our allies are correct to question this treaty.

The Problem With Iran

We have been negotiating with Iran over its nuclear program since 2013. Yahoo News posted a timeline of highlights in American-Iranian relations. During that time, most of what Iran has done is buy time to continue its nuclear program.

The article reports:

October 2013: Burns and Sullivan hold a fourth secret meeting with Iranian officials, and then a fifth, this time joined by chief U.S. negotiator Sherman. The framework nuclear deal hashed out in the early secret talks begins to gain clarity. A new round of larger nuclear talks with world powers is held in Geneva at which Sherman meets publicly with Zarif.

November 2013: World powers meet Iran again in Geneva. Burns and Sullivan are among the U.S. delegation but are not identified as such. They are kept hidden from public view, entering meeting rooms only after photographers and journalists are escorted out. They stay at a separate hotel from the main delegation and enter the talks through service entrances.

Nov. 23, 2013: Western powers and Iran reach initial deal on curbing Iran’s nuclear program.

Note that in 2013 the goal was to curb Iran’s nuclear program. That is not where we are today. We have forgotten our goal of never allowing Iran to go nuclear.

Michael Rubin posted an article at Commentary Magazine today about the current negotiations with Iran. In the article, he points out the fact that Iran is holding Americans hostage–even as we are negotiating about their nuclear program.

The article lists four hostages:

  • Saeed Abedini. Iran has long been hostile to Christianity. While the Iranian city of Isfahan hosts a large Armenian community which thrives today, the Armenian Christians settled in Isfahan only because they were forcibly relocated there from northwestern Iran as the shah at the time doubted their loyalty. Non-Orthodox Christians have special difficulty in Iran. Past State Department human-rights reports, for example, depict the disappearance and murder of priests and, especially, evangelical Christians whose community is small but growing in Iran. Abedini, a 34-year-old from Idaho, was arrested during a 2012 trip to Tehran to visit family and sentenced to eight years in prison. He is a married father of two small children.
  • Robert Levinson. A former FBI agent whom Iran alleges to have worked for a CIA contractor visited Kish Island, an Iranian free-trade zone which is visa-free, in an effort to research a cigarette smuggling case when he was seized by Iranian intelligence in 2007. While the Iranians have sought at times to deny responsibility or knowledge of Levinson’s case, the state-run Iranian press acknowledged Iranian involvement. He remains the longest-held Iranian hostage. Perhaps reflecting its role as the ­de facto lobby of the Islamic Republic, the National Iranian American Council has distinguished itself by omitting Levinson in its calls for the release of hostages.
  • Amir Hekmati. A former American Marine, Hekmati was arrested in August 2011 while visiting family in Tehran. Charged with espionage, he was initially sentenced to death, a sentence later commuted. While some Iranians might look askance at his military service, it should be remembered that because Iran has conscription, many male Iranian graduate students seeking to come to the United States to continue their education or to visit family have served in the Iranian military. The charges were more ridiculous considering Hekmati sought and received permission from Iranian authorities in the United States before traveling. Hekmati had briefly launched a hunger strike which he subsequently suspended.
  • Jason Rezaian. The Washington Post’s Tehran bureau chief, Rezaian was arrested on undisclosed security-related offenses on July 22, 2014, and initially held incommunicado. On January 15, 2015, an Iranian prosecutor announced that Rezaian would stand trial in a revolutionary court. His case is slated to be heard by one of Iran’s most notorious hanging judges.

The article concludes:

When the State Department counsels quiet diplomacy, what diplomats are seeking is enough distraction to sweep the problem under the rug. They should not be able to. Indeed, there should not be another meeting held, let alone incentive given or payment made, until they are happily at home and reunited with their families. Quite the contrary, there should be no end to sanctions and punishment until the Americans—all four—come home.

We should not be negotiating nuclear arms with people who hold our citizens hostage. Until these hostages are released, we should tighten economic sanctions.

In An Iranian Prison And Abandoned By The Iranian Government

The agreement with Iran about its nuclear program somehow overlooked the fate of Pastor Saeed Abedini, an American citizen being held in the deadly Iranian prison, Rajai Shahr. Pastor Abedini was transferred to Rajai Shahr in November.

CBN News is reporting today that according to the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) Pastor Abedini has been repeatedly robbed and threatened at knifepoint by other prisoners.

The article reports:

“The Obama administration abandoned this U.S. citizen in Iran — releasing an Iranian nuclear scientist while refusing to even ask for Pastor Saeed’s release in return,” Jay Sekulow (ACLJ Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow) said. “But I am letting our friends in Europe know the American people have not given up on this persecuted pastor. We cannot and will not leave Pastor Saeed behind.”

We are releasing Iran’s nuclear scientists, and Iran won’t even release a Christian Pastor. There is something very wrong with the lack of American influence in the world.

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What Brand Of Negotiating Is This?

On Saturday, Breitbart.com reported that as part of the secret talks that took place before the agreement with Iran on its nuclear program, the United States released two Iranian scientists that were in prison in America. One of those scientists, Mojtaba Atarodi, had been arrested in 2011 for attempting to acquire equipment that could be used for Iran’s military-nuclear programs.

It is also reported that hikers Sarah Shourd, Shane Bauer, and Josh Fattal were released in 2010 and 2011 as part of those negotiations. In 2012 the United States released Iranian prisoners Shahrzad Mir Gholikhan, Nosratollah Tajik, and Amir Hossein Seirafi. All three of these men had been charged with either weapons trafficking, purchasing illegal military equipment, or purchasing items to be used in Iran’s nuclear program.

Meanwhile, Americans Robert Levinson, Amir Hekmati, and Saeed Abedini remain imprisoned in Iran. Negotiating with the Iranian thugs is not the answer. I hope Congress passes tighter sanctions and totally cripples the Iranian economy. That will give the Iranians who support freedom the opportunity to overthrow the Iranian government. Please understand that the Iranian government is at the root of the majority of the unrest in the Middle East. That is why an alliance between Israel and Saudi Arabia is forming to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon and a delivery system. We have been fighting Iran indirectly since the Iranian revolution–they have supplied weapons to Taliban troops in both Iraq and Afghanistan and are a major player in Syria.

The current Iranian government is not merely a threat to Israel–it is a threat to America and the entire world. The goal of the current Iranian government has not changed–that goal is the establishment of a world-wide caliphate under Sharia law. Another part of the philosophy of the current Iranian regime is that world chaos will usher in the return of the Mahdi. The Mahdi died in 874 and is believed to be living at the bottom of a well in Iran. The Iranian leaders believe that if they cause enough chaos he will return. These are the people we are negotiating with.

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When America Does Not Project Strength Bad Things Happen

Today American Pastor Saeed Abedini, a U.S. citizen, was placed in solitary confinement in Evin Prison in Iran. The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) is reporting that Pastor Abedini and nine other prisoners have been moved to solitary.

The article reports the statement released by Pastor Saeed’s wife, Naghmeh:

“Saeed has internal bleeding and now issues with his kidneys because of the beatings,” said Naghmeh. “We believe that he is being beaten in solitary confinement. We have no way of finding out about his health. There will be no more visitations allowed and we will have no way of knowing how Saeed is doing. Saeed had previously told his family that when he was in solitary confinement in the past, that was the hardest time in his life. That every hour was like one year and that he was losing his memory and his health was deteriorating quickly. Please pray for his health and healing. Pray for his release. Pray that the Lord would use this for His Glory and salvation of many.”

Pastor Saeed is an American citizen. Today is his 215th day of imprisonment.

The article reports:

The latest developments underscore the brutality of Iran’s continued violation of human rights – imprisoning, torturing, and refusing medical care for Pastor Saeed merely because of his faith. This treatment not only violates international law, but is abhorrent. We know that a tactic used by the Iranians is to place prisoners in solitary confinement in an effort to get them to give into the demands of prison officials – in Pastor Saeed’s case, to recant his Christian faith. He continues to refuse to do so, and the only thing sustaining Pastor Saeed at this time is his Christian faith. We know that continues to provide him with strength and comfort during this most challenging time.

Where are the usual human rights groups on this–Amnesty International, the Red Cross, the United Nations? Where is the American government? Have we reached a time when Americans overseas will not be protected in any way by their government? Do we as Americans have the national character to do something to save this man’s life?

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