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New Iran Sanctions Bill

by Stephen Lendman Saturday, Dec. 21, 2013 at 11:40 PM


New Iran Sanctions Bill

by Stephen Lendman

Last July, House members overwhelmingly passed new Iranian sanctions. A companion Senate bill didn't follow. Members of both parties want one.

On December 19, Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Robert Menendez (D. NJ) headlined his press release: "Twenty-Seven Senators Introduce the Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act (NWFI)."

Multiple rounds of US sanctions were imposed earlier. NWFI proposes more. It does so if Iran breaches Geneva agreed on terms. By who's determination remains key.

Obama already violated Geneva. On December 12, he did so. He unilaterally imposed new sanctions. He lied claiming it doesn't interfere with Geneva's Joint Plan of Action.

He targeted 19 Iranian, Asian and European companies (including individuals). Doing so violates the letter and spirit of Geneva. It shows America doesn't negotiate in good faith.

It bodes ill for what's forthcoming. It suggests Washington is up to its old tricks. It indicates its dirty hands want Geneva subverted.

Menendez said he, Mark Kirk (R. IL), and 25 other senators introduced the Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act.

He called doing so "bipartisan legislation proposing prospective sanctions on Iran should the regime violate the interim Joint Plan of Action agreed to in Geneva or should Iran fail to reach a final agreement."

Proposed sanctions target Iranian oil and gas operations. They "appl(y) further reductions in purchases of Iranian petroleum and applies additional penalties to strategic elements of the Iranian economy, to include the engineering, mining and construction sectors," said Menendez.

"Simultaneously, it gives the Administration continued flexibility and up to one year from the conclusion of an implementing agreement to pursue a diplomatic track resulting in the complete and verifiable termination of Iran's illicit nuclear weapons program."

No such program exists. Obama knows it. So do House and Senate members. Requiring Iran to prove a negative suggests trouble.

According to Menendez:

"Current sanctions brought Iran to the negotiating table and a credible threat of future sanctions will require Iran to cooperate and act in good faith at the negotiating table."

"The Iranians last week blamed the Administration for enforcing sanctions; now, they criticize Congress."

"The burden rests with Iran to negotiate in good faith and verifiably terminate its nuclear weapons program."

"Prospective sanctions will influence Iran's calculus and accelerate that process toward achieving a meaningful diplomatic resolution."

Kirk added:

"The American people rightfully distrust Iran's true intentions and they deserve an insurance policy to defend against Iranian deception during negotiations."

"This is a responsible, bipartisan bill to protect the American people from Iranian deception, and I urge the Majority Leader to give the American people an up or down vote."

Michael Siegal chairs the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA). It's militantly Zionist. It supports stiffer Iranian sanctions.

"We believe a diplomatic solution to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capacity, a threat to the entire world, is vital," said Siegal.

"We stand firmly with President Obama as he and our P5+1 allies seek to negotiate a comprehensive agreement."

"We recognize economic sanctions have been successful in bringing Iran to the negotiating table, as well as in expressing the resolve of the global community."

"The threat of additional sanctions, with the appropriate Presidential waivers in this legislation, ensures that Iran knows this and all other options are on the table should negotiations fail."

Anti-Defamation League (ADL) national chair Barry Curtiss-Lusher and national director Abe Foxman match Siegal's militancy.

They back further Senate action. They said proposed legislation "further enhances the American strategy of tough sanctions in support of our negotiation efforts."

"By putting in place broader and deeper sanctions that would kick in after a year, the legislation makes clear to Iran the severe economic price it will pay if it does not negotiate seriously and plays for time."

"It also gives the administration time to pursue negotiations to end Iran’s nuclear weapons program."

Both men endorsed Obama's new unilateral sanctions, adding:

"(T)he the administration has also sent a message to those who may think now is the time to pursue new business opportunities with Iran by announcing a series of enforcement actions last week against entities found to be evading sanctions against Iran and providing support for its nuclear program."

"Enhanced sanctions together with negotiations will sustain the utmost pressure on a regime that poses a threat to America and our closest allies in the Middle East and offer a greater chance of achieving success through diplomacy."

The Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) is another extremist Zionist organization. It called proposed Senate legislation "an important contribution toward a successfully negotiated end to Iran's nuclear program."

AIPAC, ADL, JFNA, and JCPA, want Iran's nuclear program dismantled. They want stiffer sanctions imposed. They want Iran materially weakened.

They want an Israeli rival eliminated. Other Zionist groups are likeminded. They exert enormous pressure in Washington. Expect no letup ahead.

Obama promised to veto Senate legislation is passed. Whether true or false remains to be seen. He rates reaching a permanent Iranian agreement no "more than 50-50."

John Kerry told Congress he "came away from our preliminary negotiation (with Tehran) with serious questions about whether or not they're ready and willing to make some of the choices that have to be made."

Iran made major concessions. It got little in return. It's hoping a small step forward leads to greater ones. At best, it's a long shot.

It's betting against long odds. Administration comments aren't encouraging. Nor is congressional sentiment. America's media remain hostile.

On December 19, Washington Post editors asked "Does Iran truly want a nuclear deal?" They accused Tehran negotiators of breaking off Vienna talks.

They did no such thing. They suspended them temporarily. They resumed them the same day WaPo editors misreported.

"Perhaps such maneuvering is inevitable," they said. "But Iran is sending an early message that it does not intend to bargain in good faith."

"Mr. Obama and Mr. Kerry have devoted much time since the Geneva deal to persuading Congress not to approve additional sanctions on Iran."

"Perhaps their time would be better spent pushing the Iranian negotiators to stop posturing and stonewalling."

WaPo editors are extremely hawkish. New owner Jeff Bezos has CIA ties. He's in bed with the devil. He got a $600 million contract.

It's double what he paid to buy WaPo. In November, he said: "We look forward to a successful relationship with the CIA."

Perhaps it involves much more than meets the eye. He expects lots more business. For sure, CIA officials want plenty back besides Amazon Web Services (AWS).

Amazon has a disturbing history currying favor with national security officials. After WikiLeaks published State Department cables, it was removed from AWS.

WaPo's CIA coverage henceforth should explain Bezos' CIA connection. Readers should know its Agency reporting has a built-in bias.

Communications Professor/journalism scholar/media critic Robert McChesney commented, saying:

"When the main shareholder in one of the very largest corporations in the world benefits from a massive contract with the CIA on the one hand, and that same billionaire owns the Washington Post on the other hand, there are serious problems."

"The Post is unquestionably the political paper of record in the United States, and how it covers governance sets the agenda for the balance of the news media. Citizens need to know about this conflict of interest in the columns of the Post itself."

"If some official enemy of the United States had a comparable situation - say the owner of the dominant newspaper in Caracas was getting $600 million in secretive contracts from the Maduro government - the Post itself would lead the howling chorus impaling that newspaper and that government for making a mockery of a free press. It is time for the Post to take a dose of its own medicine."

For years, Iran negotiated in good faith. Sincere efforts were rebuffed. Washington has all the proving to do.

Rapprochement depends on what Congress and Obama plan going forward. Policies post-Geneva aren't encouraging. Business as usual persists.

Enforcing it assures trouble. Obama maintained hostile Iranian relations since day one in office. Vladimir Putin called new sanctions imposed counterproductive.

They'll "adversely affect the recent deal struck between Iran and the six world powers in the Swiss city of Geneva over Tehran's civilian nuclear activities," he said.

He affirmed Russia's support for Iran's right to peaceful nuclear technology. He said no country may impose discriminatory restrictions.

Iran suspended post-Geneva talks in response to Obama's unilateral action. On December 19, they resumed.

They focus on implementing Geneva terms. Resolving procedures going forward include choosing a starting date for beginning the six-month interim period agreed on.

Key is deciding when Washington will ease sanctions. Also what's expected from Iran in return.

Diplomats hope for late January implementation. Possibly January 20. It's when EU foreign ministers meet in Brussels. If Washington announces a sanctions easing date, odds favor EU nations following.

An unnamed Western diplomat said:

"We were at an advanced stage in Vienna. A lot of work has been done so we can go very fast."

At the same time, talks could be tougher going forward, he added. Obama's unilateral breaching of Geneva complicates things.

Issues resolved in Vienna last week include how IAEA inspectors will verify what Iran agreed on.

Unresolved so far is how Western governments will ensure banks understand what transactions are allowed.

Also how and when Tehran gets access to agreed on amounts of billions of frozen dollars in overseas accounts.

Other technical details need resolving. How will Iran limit its uranium enrichment to less than 20%.

Tehran committed to follow Geneva terms to the letter. It's very much uncertain whether Washington will follow through in turn.

The proof remains in the implementation. America has a long history of violating treaties, conventions  and other agreements.

Whether this time is different is very much in doubt. It bears repeating. Washington has all the proving to do. Its track record isn't encouraging.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."


Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.


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