Posts Tagged ‘Nuclear’


IRAN: Treasury, Justice Target Iranian Regime Assets

November 16, 2009

Treasury, Justice Target Iranian Regime Assets

IPT News
November 13, 2009

On November 12, 2009, the Justice Department dealt a major blow to Iranian nuclear ambitions and terrorist financing efforts. The announcement of an amended civil forfeiture complaint against the Alavi Foundation has the potential to cut off a significant source of funding to the Iranian government—funding which is absolutely essential as Iran continues to defy international efforts at curbing nuclear proliferation.

The amended complaint in United States v. ASSA Corp., now the largest civil forfeiture claim ever filed, is the latest in a series of moves taken by the United States government aimed at closing front companies funneling money to the Iranian government. The complaint, filed in the Southern District of New York, alleges, among other things, that the “Alavi Foundation has been providing numerous services to the Iranian Government,” including funneling money to Bank Melli, an institution which has been designated for its role in funding terrorism and nuclear proliferation.

Bank Melli was designated under ***Executive Order 13382—aimed at freezing the assets of proliferators of weapons of mass destruction—on October 25, 2007. At the time of its designation, the Treasury Department explained that:

Bank Melli provides financial services, including opening letters of credit and maintaining accounts, for Iranian front companies and entities engaged in proliferation activities. Further, Bank Melli has facilitated the purchase of sensitive materials utilized by Iran’s nuclear and missile industry, and has handled transactions for other designated Iranian entities, including Bank Sepa, Defense Industries Organization, and the Shahid Hammas Industrial Group.

Following the designation of Bank Melli, the Iranian government began setting up front companies to hide its identity and continue sponsoring terrorism. Through these layers of front companies Bank Melli provided banking services to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corp (IRGC) and the Qods force, a branch of the IRGC that has been designated under Executive Order 13224 for providing support to terrorist groups including the Taliban, Hizballah, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Among the companies set up to mask Iranian activities were the ASSA Corporation and the Alavi Foundation, the two defendants in the recently amended civil forfeiture proceeding.

Assa Corporation is owned by Assa Company Limited, a UK entity which is wholly owned and operated by Iranian citizens who represent the interests of Bank Melli. Shortly after ASSA’s creation, on December 17, 2008, the Treasury Department designated ASSA as a terrorist financier, and the Justice Department filed a civil forfeiture complaint over ASSAs financial interests in the United States. At the time, senior Treasury official, Stuart Levey, explained “this scheme to use a front company set up by Bank Melli—a known proliferator—to funnel money from the United States to Iran is yet another example of Iran’s duplicity.”

Similarly, the Alavi Foundation has served as a front for Iran’s financing of terrorism. It began as the Pahlavi Foundation, a non-profit organization operated by the Shah of Iran and was later renamed the Mostazafan Foundation of New York and then finally the Alavi Foundation. Through each of these incarnations, the company has been used by Bank Melli and the Iranian government to finance terror, as detailed in the complaint. Along with ASSA Corporation, the Alavi Foundation maintains control over substantial assets and property within the United States. All would be forfeited should the government prevail at the upcoming trial in Manhattan.

The government’s action, undertaken under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, seeks forfeiture of more than $500 million in assets, including:

With Iran continuing to move forward in its plans to develop nuclear weapons, the U.S. government must use every tool at its disposal to dry up funding. The steps taken by the Justice Department this week are a strong indication that they are doing so. By closing down and seeking forfeiture of the assets of front corporations working on behalf of Iran, the U.S. can effectively curb not only the regime’s nuclear weapons program but also its continued support for terrorist organizations.


In a related news item, the Alavi-owned Islamic Education Center of Houston has featured its own support for Iran. In a speech for the “Anniversary of the Islamic Revolution” of 1979, speaker Ghulam Hur Shabbiri prays for the victory of Islam all over the world:

This is just an opening. May Allah (swt) bless us all and forgive all sins of all life. And may Allah (swt) give Islami-Inqilab [Islamic Revolution] victory in [sic] all over the world. And may Allah give us UI that we may make this Inqilab [revolution] successful and we can join with the Imam of the age… to have a complete victory in the world and Islam, then Islam is going to be a ruling authority in the whole world and we can see the flag of Islam in the top places in this world.



Cartoon: Iran’s Nuclear Program

November 13, 2009


How Israel Was Disarmed

October 6, 2009

Our only friend in the world is Israel.  Israel’s only friend has been and is ISRAEL.

PRAY THAT GOD WILL INTERVENE and keep us focsued on our purpose.


“It also appears to reverse a decades-old understanding between Washington and Tel Aviv that the U.S. would acquiesce in Israel’s nuclear arsenal as long as that arsenal remained undeclared”


How Israel Was Disarmed

News analysis from the near-future. By BRET STEPHENS
Jan. 20, 2010
NEW YORK—When American diplomats sat down for the first in a series of face-to-face talks with their Iranian counterparts last October in Geneva, few would have predicted that what began as a negotiation over Tehran’s nuclear programs would wind up in a stunning demand by the Security Council that Israel give up its atomic weapons.
Yet that’s just what the U.N. body did this morning, in a resolution that was as striking for the way member states voted as it was for its substance. All 10 nonpermanent members voted for the resolution, along with permanent members Russia, China and the United Kingdom. France and the United States abstained. By U.N. rules, that means the resolution passes.
The U.S. abstention is sending shock waves through the international community, which has long been accustomed to the U.S. acting as Israel’s de facto protector on the Council. It also appears to reverse a decades-old understanding between Washington and Tel Aviv that the U.S. would acquiesce in Israel’s nuclear arsenal as long as that arsenal remained undeclared.
The Jewish state is believed to possess as many as 200 weapons.
Tehran reacted positively to the U.S. abstention. “For a long time we have said about Mr. Obama that we see change but no improvement,” said Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki. “Now we can say there has been an improvement.”
The resolution calls for a nuclear weapons-free zone in the Middle East. It also demands that Israel sign the 1970 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and submit its nuclear facilities to international inspection. Two similar, albeit nonbinding, resolutions were approved last September by the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna.
At the time, the U.S. opposed a resolution focused on Israel but abstained from a more general motion calling for regional disarmament. “We are very pleased with the agreed approach reflected here today,” said then-U.S. Ambassador to the IAEA Glyn Davies.
Since then, however, relations between the Obama administration and the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, never warm to begin with, have cooled dramatically.
The administration accused Tel Aviv of using “disproportionate force” following a Nov. 13 Israeli aerial attack on an apparent munitions depot in Gaza City, in which more than a dozen young children were killed.
Mr. Netanyahu also provoked the administration’s ire after he was inadvertently caught on an open microphone calling Mr. Obama “worse than Chamberlain.” The comment followed the president’s historic Dec. 21 summit meeting with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Geneva, the first time leaders of the two countries have met since the Carter administration.
But the factors that chiefly seemed to drive the administration’s decision to abstain from this morning’s vote were more strategic than personal. Western negotiators have been pressing Iran to make good on its previous agreement in principle to ship its nuclear fuel to third countries so it could be rendered usable in Iran’s civilian nuclear facilities. The Iranians, in turn, have been adamant that they would not do so unless progress were made on international disarmament.
“The Iranians have a point,” said one senior administration official. “The U.S. can’t forever be the enforcer of a double standard where Israel gets a nuclear free ride but Iran has to abide by every letter in the NPT. President Obama has put the issue of nuclear disarmament at the center of his foreign policy agenda. His credibility is at stake and so is U.S. credibility in the Muslim world. How can we tell Tehran that they’re better off without nukes if we won’t make the same point to our Israeli friends?”
Also factoring into the administration’s thinking are reports that the Israelis are in the final stages of planning an attack on Iran’s nuclear installations. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who met with his Israeli counterpart Ehud Barak in Paris last week, has been outspoken in his opposition to such a strike. The Jerusalem Post has reported that Mr. Gates warned Mr. Barak that the U.S. would “actively stand in the way” of any Israeli strike.
“The Israelis need to look at this U.N. vote as a shot across their bow,” said a senior Pentagon official. “If they want to start a shooting war with Iran, we won’t have their backs on the Security Council.”
An Israeli diplomat observed bitterly that Jan. 20 was the 68th anniversary of the Wannsee conference, which historians believe is where Nazi Germany planned the extermination of European Jewry. An administration spokesman said the timing of the vote was “purely coincidental.”

Cartoon: Iran (Snake)

September 16, 2009

IBD: 7 May 2008


Nuclear Nightmare

June 23, 2009


Nuclear Nightmare


Nuclear Proliferation: Al-Qaida says it will use Pakistan’s nuclear weapons against the U.S. if it ever gets the chance. We’re not surprised. Nor would we be surprised if it eventually got the opportunity.

Read More: Military & Defense

“God willing, the (Pakistani) nuclear weapons will not fall into the hands of the Americans, and the mujahedeen would take them and use them against the Americans.” So says Mustafa Abu al-Yazid, al-Qaida’s top commander in Afghanistan, where the terror group has found a friend and ally in the Taliban.

If you think 9/11 was bad, just wait until al-Qaida gets a nuke, which is not as far-fetched as it sounds. Based both in Afghanistan and Pakistan’s untamed northwest frontier, al-Qaida in April launched a major offensive into Pakistan’s Swat Valley, engaging in fierce fighting with Pakistani army forces.

Swat is just 60 miles from Pakistan’s capital of Islamabad. If al-Qaida beats the Pakistan army in Swat, what will keep it from marching on Islamabad and gaining control of the Pakistani nuclear arsenal — said to number as many as 55 warheads? If you said Pakistan’s ISI intelligence agency, guess again. It’s riddled with fundamentalist al-Qaida sympathizers.

If this isn’t frightening enough, the U.S. stands under direct threat of possible attack by a nuclear power — North Korea. That country, in the destabilizing throes of a leadership change, warns it will launch a missile on July 4 toward Hawaii — even as the U.S. shadows a North Korean ship containing nuclear contraband.

Meanwhile, the world is rightly riveted on Iran’s massive anti-government protests. But even if Iran’s corrupt religious regime falls, the potential threat of a nuclear Iran remains. Once Iran builds a weapon, which now seems certain, its traditional enemies in the region — including Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Egypt and Syria, among others — will want to do the same.

This calls for leadership — the kind only the U.S. can supply. Unfortunately, the U.S. has followed a laissez-faire policy on nuclear weapons, abdicating its leadership to the entirely inept and corrupt U.N.

With the U.S. happy merely to talk, North Korea, al-Qaida and most seriously, Iran, are collectively thumbing their noses at us.

Pakistan’s recent history shows where Iran may be headed.

Despite warnings from the U.S. and U.N. in the 1990s, Pakistan acquired nuclear know-how and designs from China and the former USSR. And it bought dual-use technology from Western Europe.

A.Q. Khan, the German-educated metallurgist who served as scientific midwife to Pakistan’s bomb, then resold Pakistan’s nuclear technology on the global black market to bad apples such as Iran, Libya and North Korea.

That’s how proliferation starts. If one country gets a bomb, others want one too — and the race begins. Those who think the U.S. will be safer if it steps aside and lets countries pursue nuclear weapons are sadly mistaken.

Does anyone doubt that Pakistan — a country filled with fundamentalists like the ones who rule Iran — will help a fellow Islamic country get the bomb, as it did North Korea? Or that once Iran gets a bomb, it will make it available to terrorist clients such as Hamas, Hezbollah or even al-Qaida? We sure don’t.

Such proliferation poses a clear and present danger to the West. Yet, the U.S. seems unwilling to go beyond jawboning. Result: North Korea is busy making its nuclear threat real, while Iran is working frantically on a bomb of its own.

Al-Qaida’s threat brings us that much closer to the day when a nuclear device is exploded in a U.S. or European city because we’ve decided that talk — not action — is the way to respond.


U.S. Chooses Four Utilities to Revive Nuclear Industry

June 18, 2009

U.S. Chooses Four Utilities to Revive Nuclear Industry

WSJ | Rebecca Smith | 17 June 09

Four power companies are expected to split $18.5 billion in federal financing to build the next generation of nuclear reactors — the biggest step in three decades to revive the U.S. nuclear industry and one that could vault the utilities ahead of some of the sector’s strongest players.


Are We Crazy?

May 28, 2009

U.A.E Video Slows Nuclear Pact in U.S.

Wall Street Journal 15 May 09


WASHINGTON — The Obama administration is delaying submitting legislation to Congress on U.S. nuclear cooperation with the United Arab Emirates because of a graphic video showing an Abu Dhabi sheikh abusing an Afghan trader, officials said.

Any protracted White House delay could imperil efforts by U.S. power companies to win contracts estimated at $20 billion that the U.A.E. is scheduled to award by this fall.

General Electric Co. and Westinghouse Electric Co. are among the U.S.-based companies competing with French and South Korean firms to build the Emirates’ first fleet of nuclear reactors. The agreement authorizing cooperation between the U.S. and U.A.E. needs to be passed into law before U.S. companies can sell nuclear technologies to the Emirates.

“It would harmful for both the U.A.E.’s and U.S.’s long-term interests if American firms were to be taken out of the competition at this stage,” said Yousef Al Otaiba, the U.A.E.’s ambassador to Washington. He added that several U.S. firms made it through the qualification phase and were in contention for the final contract.

The U.A.E. is seeking formal assurance from Washington in the coming weeks that U.S. firms will be able to participate.

President Barack Obama has touted the U.A.E. deal as a model for peaceful development of nuclear power and previously was expected to submit the cooperation bill to Congress last month, said officials involved in the deliberations.

However, the airing of the video on U.S. television networks in recent weeks has generated outrage among some U.S. lawmakers and led to the White House delaying the bill’s submission.

In the 2004 video, Sheikh Issa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, a half-brother of Abu Dhabi’s crown prince, is seen abusing an Afghan trader who allegedly cheated him in a business transaction.

Sheikh Issa, with the assistance of uniformed men, abuses the Afghan man with a cattle prod, forces sand into his mouth, beats him with a wooden plank with a nail, and pours salt in his wounds. A sport-utility vehicle then repeatedly runs over the man in an undisclosed desert location. The man survived.

The Abu Dhabi government says it detained Sheikh Issa and opened a formal criminal investigation into the incident. It established a unit within its Public Prosecutors’ Office to investigate and prosecute human-rights complaints.

A number of U.S. lawmakers say they still doubt Emirati courts will deal with the matter properly. They have seized on the issue to question whether the U.A.E. can be trusted to safely run a nuclear-power program.

“A country where the laws can be flouted by the rich and powerful is not a country that can safeguard sensitive U.S. nuclear technology,” Rep. Edward Markey (D., Mass.) said Wednesday.

A congressional commission on human rights convened Wednesday to focus on the Sheikh Issa video and the issue of U.A.E. human rights.

White House and State Department officials declined this week to set a firm timeline for submitting the U.A.E. legislation to Congress, saying the agreement is under review.

They also said nuclear cooperation and the U.A.E.’s human-rights record should be kept separate. “We think it’s an important agreement, but, as I said, we are right now in the stage of having consultations with Congress,” State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said Wednesday.

U.S. officials and industry executives said they remain confident that the White House will eventually move the legislation forward, given its importance to American companies and President Obama’s wider nonproliferation agenda. Officials said the legislation could still be submitted to Congress this month.

U.S. officials praise the U.A.E.’s nuclear program because, unlike Iran, it is adhering to standards set by the United Nations atomic-energy agency.

The U.A.E. has agreed not to enrich uranium or reprocess plutonium, significantly eliminating the possibility that nuclear fuels could be diverted for military purposes.

—Tim Alberta contributed to this article.


Iran Into Trouble

March 3, 2009

Iran Into Trouble


Nuclear Weapons: Our Joint Chiefs chairman says Iran has enough material to make a nuclear bomb.  Didn’t our spy agencies less than a year and a half ago tell us all not to worry?

Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told CNN on Sunday that Iran has enough enriched uranium to make a nuclear weapon.

“We think they do, quite frankly,” Mullen said.

Tehran retorted that the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency monitors Iran’s nuclear facility at Natanz. But the IAEA was shocked last month to find 209 kilograms more low-enriched uranium at Natanz than expected, enough for up to 25 kilograms of highly-enriched uranium — or one Hiroshima-sized device.

Speaking of incompetence, the U.S. intelligence community in October 2007 asserted “with high confidence that in fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program.”

That National Intelligence Estimate said: “Tehran’s decision to halt its nuclear weapons program suggests it is less determined to develop nuclear weapons than we have been judging since 2005.”

That hasn’t seemed to have quelled Admiral Mullen’s worries.

Consider, after all, the long list of examples proving the cloudiness of our spy agencies’ crystal ball. Two days before Saddam Hussein’s march into Kuwait in 1990, for instance, the CIA was telling President George H.W. Bush that an invasion was unlikely.

Less than a week before Moscow’s Christmas 1979 invasion of Afghanistan, the agency’s top Soviet analysts claimed, “The pace of Soviet deployments does not suggest . . . urgent contingency.”

And back in 1950, two days before 300,000 Red Chinese troops assaulted American forces in Korea, the CIA repeated to President Eisenhower that the Chinese would not invade.

How many times must Inspector Clouseau bumble before we stop taking him seriously?

Thomas C. Reed and Danny B. Stillman’s new history of nuclear proliferation, “The Nuclear Express,” recounts Israel’s successful — and fairly speedy — quest for the bomb. By the spring of 1963, President John F. Kennedy knew Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion was lying about Israel’s Dimona “civilian” reactor.

JFK “sent harsh messages to Ben-Gurion, but to no avail; delay and obfuscation were Ben-Gurion’s stock and trade.”

By the end of 1963 the Dimona plant was producing plutonium. By 1966, Israel apparently conducted “a hydronuclear or near-zero yield test” of a prototype bomb beneath the Negev desert.

Four decades later, delay and obfuscation are now Tehran’s stock and trade. But unlike Tel Aviv, their nuclear intentions are not defensive but jihadist. And they are a clear and present danger to us.


Diplomacy By Itself Won’t Work With Iran

February 16, 2009

Diplomacy By Itself Won’t Work With Iran

By MICHAEL RUBIN | 15 Feb.09

Throughout his presidency, George W. Bush said the U.S. “would not tolerate” a nuclear-weapons-capable Iran. That he kept his promise was more a matter of timing than of policy. President Barack Obama will not be so lucky.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced last summer that Iran possessed 6,000 centrifuges. But the problem is no longer just enrichment. Last week the Islamic Republic launched a satellite into orbit, demonstrating an intercontinental ballistic missile capacity.

Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s confidants have repeatedly urged nuclear weapon development. Ayatollah Mohammad Baqer Kharrazi, secretary-general of Iranian Hezbollah, for example, declared in 2005: “We are able to produce atomic bombs, and we will do that. . . . The United States is not more than a barking dog.”

During his campaign, Obama promised to meet unconditionally with Iran’s leader and conduct “tough diplomacy.” These are mutually exclusive.

Be Suspicious

If he sits down with Ahmadinejad without precondition, he will not only have sent Tehran the message that it can win by defiance rather than diplomacy. He has also unilaterally set aside three U.N. Security Council Resolutions demanding Iran cease its enrichment.

Too often, new U.S. administrations assume that the fault for failed diplomacy lies more with their predecessors than with their adversary. To believe any Iranian leader is sincere is dangerous.

In a June 14, 2008, debate, Abdollah Ramezanzadeh, government spokesman under Mohammad Khatami, criticized not Ahmadinejad’s policy but his style, suggesting Khatami’s strategy to lull the West better achieved Iran’s nuclear aims.

“We had an overt policy, which was one of negotiation and confidence building, and a covert policy, which was continuation of the activities,” Ramezanzadeh explained.

Indeed, it was during Khatami’s “dialogue of civilizations” that Tehran built its covert enrichment facility and, according to International Atomic Energy Agency reports, experimented with plutonium and uranium metal. Neither has a role in energy production, but have military applications.

And, according to the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate, it was under the reformists that Iran actively worked on nuclear warhead design.

Obama may seek out Iranian moderates, but he should understand that, on the nuclear issue, differences between Iranian factions are illusionary. The supreme leader tolerates no officeholder who does not support his line on national security.

On Feb. 3, the Kayhan newspaper — Khamenei’s mouthpiece — drove home the point by calling Obama’s attempts to reach out to moderates “futile.”

All this does not mean diplomacy is useless. But to be successful, it must be carefully crafted. Cost matters. Here, the Iran-Iraq War provides a lesson.

Ayatollah Khomeini swore to pursue war with Iraq until victory, even after expelling Iraqi troops from Iranian territory in 1982. His counterinvasion bogged into stalemate and led to several hundred thousand Iranian deaths. Finally, in 1988, as costs became insurmountable, Khomeini changed course. He agreed to a cease-fire, saying it was like drinking “a chalice of poison.”

Iran is willing to switch course, but only when the costs of its policy become too great to bear. This means fewer incentives.

Bailing out a failing Iranian economy makes no strategic sense unless Obama’s goal is to preserve regime longevity and provide Iran a greater industrial and financial base upon which to develop nuclear weapons and support terrorist groups.

Neither is it wise to slowly ratchet up sanctions. No sanction yet imposed compares to the deprivation Iranians suffered in the 1980s. Instead, to achieve diplomatic leverage, Obama should impose maximal sanctions but offer to relieve them as Tehran complies with U.N. resolutions. Even without Moscow and Beijing’s cooperation, Obama can leverage significant pressure.

Under Section 311 of the U.S. Patriot Act, the president can designate Iranian banks — including Iran’s central bank — as guilty of deceptive financial practices. In effect, such action would remove Iranian banks from the international financial stage, for neither Russian nor Chinese banks could risk the associated liability.

Project Power

A military strategy role also exists. Obama, his adult life spent in sheltered circles, should realize that the military is not just about bombing, and that containment and deterrence are not simply rhetorical concepts but require military planning.

Nor should Obama repeat the mistakes of Jimmy Carter. Military deployments can provide diplomatic leverage.

During the 1970 Black September hostage crisis and after the 1975 Khmer Rouge seizure of the U.S. containership Mayaguez, Nixon and Ford, respectively, quietly deployed forces to augment leverage as the two presidents muted any public bluster.

Two days after Iranian revolutionaries seized the U.S. Embassy in 1979, Carter’s aides leaked that the president would not consider military force — information that the captors said led them to retrench.

A quiet but steady buildup in the Persian Gulf can do more than the most skilled diplomat when facing the Iranian clerics.

George W. Bush had the luxury of time and squandered it. Barack Obama will not be so lucky. For him to succeed, he must abandon his idealistic notion that diplomacy by itself is a panacea.

Rubin is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.