MEK Purchases 27 US Senate Votes for War With Iran

On Tuesday, I posited that the threat of new sanctions kicking in if a final agreement on nuclear technology is not reached could serve as a strong incentive for Iran to bargain in good faith with the P5+1 group of nations. But then, on Thursday, an actual sanctions bill was introduced. Ali Gharib took the time to read it (he got an advance copy and posted about it Wednesday) and what he found is profoundly disturbing (emphasis added):

The legislation would broaden the scope of the sanctions already imposed against Iran, expanding the restrictions on Iran’s energy sector to include all aspects of its petroleum trade and putting in place measures targeting Iran’s shipping and mining sectors. The bill allows Obama to waive the new sanctions during the current talks by certifying every 30 days that Iran is complying with the Geneva deal and negotiating in good faith on a final agreement, as well as meeting other conditions such as not sponsoring or carrying out acts of terrorism against U.S. targets.

In accordance with goals laid out frequently by hard-liners in Congress and the influential lobbying group the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the bill sets tough conditions for a final deal, should one be reached with Iranian negotiators. Among those conditions is a provision that only allows Obama to waive new sanctions, even after a final deal has been struck, if that deal bars Iran from enriching any new uranium whatsoever. The bill states Obama may not waive sanctions unless the United States and its allies “reached a final and verifiable agreement or arrangement with Iran that will … dismantle Iran’s illicit nuclear infrastructure, including enrichment and reprocessing capabilities and facilities.” (Congress could also block Obama’s waivers by passing a “joint resolution of disapproval” against a final deal.)

Although Gharib ascribes the war mongering aspects of this bill to positions advocated by AIPAC, the work (and funding money) of MEK, which advocates for (in my opinion, violent) regime change in Iran, seems to be just as likely, if not more likely, to be behind this hideous piece of legislation. The chief architect of the bill is Robert Menendez (D-NJ). He lists his cosponsors (Menendez’s original release claimed 26 cosponsors and the news stories linked below also cite 26, but Corey Booker was added to the list this morning while this post was being written. The press release was changed to add Booker to the list without changing the 26 to 27. The press release at the old URL was wiped out so that an empty page is returned. The date of December 19 for the release was also retained.):

The legislation was co-sponsored by twenty-six senators [sic], including: Senators Menendez, Kirk, Schumer, Graham, Cardin, McCain, Casey, Rubio, Coons, Cornyn, Blumenthal, Ayotte, Begich, Corker, Pryor, Collins, Landrieu, Moran, Gillibrand, Roberts, Warner, Johanns, Hagan, Cruz, Donnelly, Blunt and Booker.

Perhaps the only encouraging aspect of this long list of bipartisan backers of war is that back in June of 2012 this group got 44 signatures on a Senate letter calling for all negotiations with Iran to cease unless three conditions were met:

The senators wrote that the “absolute minimum” Iran must do immediately to justify further talks is to shut down the Fordo uranium enrichment facility near Qom, freeze all uranium enrichment above 5 percent, and ship all uranium enriched above 5 percent out of the country.

Note that the current agreement does stop enrichment above 5%. It also calls for half of the 20% uranium to be diluted back down to 5% while the other half is converted to a chemical form for fuel that can’t easily be further enriched. Qom is not shut down, but the agreement does spell out specific numbers of centrifuges that can be used at the two enrichment sites.

But consider this for a moment. Most of what these war mongers were lobbying for last year actually appears in the interim agreement, and so they have been forced to move the goalposts in order to reach a point that they think won’t be part of the final agreement. What they want is a war to change the regime in Iran, not a diplomatic solution that prevents nuclear weapons being developed by Iran.

It became obvious during the final discussions that led to this interim agreement that Iran insists on its right to low level enrichment to produce fuel for nuclear power plants. Since that is seen as a deal-breaker for Iran, it is precisely what the MEK now sets as the determinant of whether sanctions that will certainly lead to war are enacted.

The intellectual dishonesty surrounding this move by MEK shills in the Senate is stunning. They claim, as stated in Menendez’s press release that their goal is “the complete and verifiable termination of Iran’s illicit nuclear weapons program”. Low level enrichment is not part of a weapons program and yet this group insists that Iran also must abandon low level enrichment along with any aspects of a weapons program.

Even more disturbing is that stories today by both the New York Times and CNN mention the introduction of the bill but don’t get around to explaining that the bill calls for the extreme sanctions if all enrichment is not abandoned and that that condition is almost certainly a deal-breaker for Iran.

There is at least some push-back within the Senate. A letter signed by ten Democratic committee heads has been sent to Harry Reid strongly advocating against bringing the bill up for a vote. Sadly, the letter fails to point out the manner in which Menendez’s bill undercuts the ongoing negotiations by setting terms that almost certainly are not going to be a part of any final agreement with Iran. There also is an op-ed (in Politico!) by Carl Levin and Barbara Boxer lobbying against the bill. Significantly, Levin was one of the 44 signatories on the June, 2012 letter but now seems to have come around to favoring diplomacy over war. Failing all this, the White House has promised to veto any bills calling for new sanctions since they clearly violate the interim P5+1 agreement.

25 replies
  1. DWBartoo says:

    Superb post, Jim.

    The most in-depth, both in terms of reporting and analysis, I have seen on this rather critical and very important subject, thank you.


  2. Duncan Hare says:

    Personally I cannot understand why Iranians still want Nuclear power, after the example set by the Japanese a Fukushima.

    I’d suggest they go for wind (They have some nice mountains).

    Then would the ban be on killer windmills?

  3. gilda says:

    MEK gets support and funding from Israel. And Israel gets its funding from the US. The only solution to all problems is to defund Israel.

  4. gilda says:

    The article is a good one – but makes the mistake of giving the MEK terror cult too much credit. Their masters run the show.

  5. Don Bacon says:

    Just like blaming Clapper for Obama’s assassination program, MEK isn’t responsible for Obama’s Iran sanctions program. Obama himself has used ‘executive privilege’ to invoke many sanctions against Iran accompanied by tiresome false allegations about Iran’s illicit nuclear program, the threat against Israel, its world-leading status as a state sponsor of terrorism, its despicable human rights, its phony elections, etc.

    President Rouhani has recently forced Obama’s hand to participate in the (essentially UNSC) agreement with Iran, but Obama has made it clear that he doesn’t like it and he doesn’t expect the whole scenario to be productive. Fifty-fifty, I believe he said.

    Obama is now back-pedaling, phony that he is. The new sanctions bill, unauthorized because it’s not from him, would serve to initiate a war! Oh? How does that work? Is Iran going to initiate a war? No. Then the US/Israel would have to initiate a war because it invoked sanctions? Crazy.

    One benefit of this charade is that it makes the US look even sillier than before, while others in Europe and Asia are getting on with the business of life. The EU Court is finding against sanctions, European auto companies are eager to back into Iran, the shipping situation looks better, and the huge growth in Asia requires energy, where sanctions have been waived and avoided in the past anyhow.

  6. Last dance says:

    Time’s a wastin’, the window is closing on war with impunity. The window will slam shut right on schedule in 2017, the way it’s going – the crime of aggression is making steady progress from customary international law to international criminal law. That scares US death merchants more than they will admit, so they want to be sure to get one air-sea world war in first.

  7. rg says:

    “What they want is a war to change the regime in Iran, not [preventing nuclear weapons development].”

    This statement, if true, makes the nuclear issue a mere tactic and relatively unimportant. Then the focus is on the issues of war and regime change. I think it important, in addressing these issues and the “mongers” themselves, that we determine which is exactly their goal. On one hand it could be regime change, with war as a means to that end. In this view, a possible puppet regime could be counted on to control the nuclear development “threat”. On the other hand, that “threat” as well as the “need” for regime change could be smokescreens to serve as excuses for the real goal of having a war, with all its economic and authority enhancement benefits.

  8. Don Bacon says:

    The US would have to break its world-class stupid standard to attack Iran. It isn’t the regular pushover like the Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan losing efforts.

    But what about US naval forces? The US Fifth Fleet does not threaten Iran — quite the opposite. Iran knows that when the fleet is sailing around on the Gulf pond, vulnerable to cruise and ballistic missiles, torpedoes and smart mines, it would never attack Iran. Also the US facilities with troops and even their families are easy targets. Overall in the region there are reportedly 40,000 American servicemen. So Iran would hate to see the ships leave, and of course they aren’t leaving. The US is putting bigger and fatter targets (USS Ponce) on that pond, in fact.

    So what is the US policy? Beyond hating Iran, and successfully getting Americans to hate Iran, there doesn’t seem to be one.

    Here’s the loser-in-chief, at the Saban Center recently:

    –if at the end of six months it turns out that we can’t make a deal, we’re no worse off, and in fact we have greater leverage with the international community to continue to apply sanctions and even strengthen them.
    –when people ask, why should we try to negotiate with them, we can’t trust them, we’re being naïve, what I try to describe to them is not the choice between this deal and the ideal, but the choice between this deal and other alternatives.
    –the best way for us to assure it is to test this diplomatic path, understanding that it’s not based on trust; it’s based on what we can verify.
    –we will continue to contest their efforts where they’re engaging in terrorism, where they’re being disruptive to our friends and our allies.

  9. nomolos says:

    @Duncan Hare: I am not so sure that it is nuclear power that they are after. Rather I believe they would just like to sell their major resource, oil, on the world market at a fair market price. The Nuke business is just a way to get the US thinking and thence to the negotiating table.

    The US and Saudi Arabia do not want Iran to have unfettered access to the market place as the price of oil would drop. It is a dangerous game the countries are playing but in the end it is all about money.

  10. P J Evans says:

    They’re also producing medical-use isotopes, since we’ve blocked them from getting those any other way. (‘Humanitarian exemptions’ somehow never seem to include them. Or a lot of other things that are actually humanitarian.)

  11. Don Bacon says:

    @Duncan Hare:

    Iran prefers to sell its oil not use it. Saudi Arabia is embarking on a huge nuclear program for similar reason. Actually it was the US that got Iran started on nuclear, under Eisenhower’s Atoms For Peace program.

  12. Don Bacon says:

    Fox News
    A ‘FLOOD’ of congressional support builds for more sanctions against Iran, as Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. vows to collect a veto-proof majority to push through the legislation opposed by President Obama.

    This is not going to be a happy new year for Obama, and it’s well deserved. All the chickens are coming home to roost.

  13. Change Iran Now says:

    Just more micro inspection of side issues while ignoring the real larger macro problem. Iran is quite simply a religious theocracy with Khamenei as its religious and secular head. Religiously supervised government is by its very nature irrational since the decision making process rests on an interpretation of divine will. Similarly, if the head of the Conference of Baptist Churches had veto power over Congress and the President, I’m sure virtually everyone (including Jim White) would be soiling their pants. So we are faced with a dilemma. We are negotiating with a nation who’s religious outlook has brought it into conflict with other Muslims, Christians, Jewish and Hindus. Probably Wiccans as well.

    This spiritually motivated belief in its “rightness” guides it to the position that Iran has a “right” to nuclear enrichment, just as it has a “right” to make war on Sunnis and treat women as non-humans in many cases.

    It is this behavior pattern ever since 1979 that makes frankly any rational person freak out over the idea of Iran possessing nuclear weapons. Any doctoral candidate in physics can explain the simplicity of constructing a weapon, but when national assets are used, the task becomes simply a question of “when” not “if.”

    Mr. White never delves into this question of religiously controlled government and the threat it poses. Only the extreme duress of sanctions, and then only over a decade, even forced Iran to acknowledge it had to talk about negotiations and now at the brink of real meaningful changes, taking sanctions off the table in exchange for Iran’s word would be idiotic.

    And while he seems to obsess about the pro-Israel and MEK groups, he ignores the pervasive, extensive and expensive lobbying efforts the Iranian regime has mounted recently, including a massive online campaign in social media.

  14. Jim White says:

    @Change Iran Now: Welcome back. Took you long enough to show up today.

    As usual, you completely miss the real point being discussed. In the rush to assure war, the folks on your side are not even pushing for a legitimate set of new sanctions to kick in only if negotiations fail. Instead, you are moving the goalposts. After the interim agreement got you almost all of the hysterical demands from summer, 2012, you now insist that zero enrichment be part of the deal, knowing full well that no deal will ever be made with that as a part of it. That gives you the war you so badly want. How is this position any different from someone waging jihad?

    Yes, I don’t feel that religion and government should ever mix. But I feel just as strongly that the form of government it has should be chosen by the people inside Iran, not people outside the country throwing around huge amounts of money to buy politicians pushing for war.

  15. CTuttle says:

    @Change Iran Now: What a crock of crap…!

    This spiritually motivated belief in its “rightness” guides it to the position that Iran has a “right” to nuclear enrichment, just as it has a “right” to make war on Sunnis and treat women as non-humans in many cases.

    Please explain to me the “rightness” of the House of Saud’s thuggish theocracy, let alone, Israel’s jewish theocratic regime…!

    When was the last time Iran attacked a neighbor…?

  16. Frank33 says:

    @Change Iran Now:

    Religiously supervised government is by its very nature irrational since the decision making process rests on an interpretation of divine will.

    That is so true. And Israel is especially irrational, as they copy the Nazi’s who made the Warsaw Ghetto in WWII. Stupid rabbis.

    You do seem very ignorant of the history of Iran and nuclear technology. The original devil spawn Henry Kissinger, began supplying Iran with Nuclear Power Technology. I bet you support nuclear power. Shout out to Fukushima.

    Even worse those sneaky guys at the CIA decided to give Iran plans for a nuclear weapon. They did. Jeffrey Sterling heroically exposed that insantiy. What better excuse for a war, if Iran can make a nuclear bomb. That is more CIA crimes, revealing classified info, releasing nuclear weapon technology into the wild, and trying to make another war based on lies from the Intelligence Community.

    Free Jeffrey Sterling. An American Patriot.

  17. john francis lee says:

    right on

    … I clicked on the ‘reply’ below #3 but it inserted the reply here. What I think is right on is the MEK <= Israel <= USSA money/problem/bad faith chain.

    I wonder why empty wheel works so hard to cover Israel's butt.

  18. Don Bacon says:

    Every country has a sovereign right to process its minerals. No question. Iran didn’t give up that right when it agreed by treaty in non-proliferation.

    Now Israel, that’s a different kettle of gefilte fish. Israel didn’t agree to the treaty and — shhhhh — has nukes, I’m told. About 200 of them, more than UK, the bastards.

  19. Don Bacon says:

    @Change Iran Now:

    Only the extreme duress of sanctions

    The “extreme duress of sanctions” has encouraged Iran to expand its enrichment program from a hundred centrifuges to ten thousand, and move some of them to a new site at Fordo which is under 90 meters of rock, unreachable by any bomb, bunker-buster or otherwise. Sanctions have also driven European companies out of Iran, and contributed to the financial downfall of Europe. Sanctions also served to stop the 2010 agreement between Iran and Brazil/Turkey to process 20% uranium. Other effects of sanctions have been to turn Iran more toward Asia, where the growth is, and as a kind of tough-love to encourage Iran’s domestic manufacture — a good thing.

    What changed recently is a newly elected president in Iran who wants to end this foolishness, this concocted ‘crisis’ that isn’t good.

    Bottom line — Iran has done nothing wrong, and is not a treaty violator.
    Second bottom line — Nobody has the right to change Iran other than Iranians through their democratic system.

  20. GulfCoastPirate says:

    @Change Iran Now: I haven’t read so much crap in one post in a very long time.

    I consider myself a rational person and I could care less if Iran has nuclear power – including weaponry. In fact, given the behavior of the US and Israel the Iranians have witnessed in their area they would be acting irrationally if they weren’t attempting to get control of the nuclear fuel cycle.

  21. Jim White says:

    @john francis lee: This is my post, not Marcy’s.

    I deliberately chose to emphasize MEK while mostly ignoring AIPAC in this post because AIPAC is so entrenched in Washington and seems to get whatever it wants, whenever it wants. By virtue of having been still on the designated terrorist list until recently, support inside the beltway is still mostly tied to their money rather than any kind of deep loyalty, so I felt we have a chance of making headway on this issue by attacking MEK selectively. (Lindsey Graham actually returned some MEK-linked money recently.)

    I see AIPAC’s actions as just as evil as MEK’s when it comes to their lobbying activities, but AIPAC is only a political group. MEK, I’m not so sure. I don’t completely buy their claim to have dropped their operational arm and always suspect them in the ongoing border skirmishes with Iran. So that makes MEK also much more dangerous if they are indeed taking part in operations. AIPAC is of course a huge fan of Mossad, but I doubt there are operational links between the two.

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