Senate sanctions to reverse Obama's 'Iran first' policy

The latest confirmation of the Obama administration's support of Iran's terrorist activities was provided to the House Foreign Affairs Committee on June 8, 2017 by David Asher, who for many years worked with the United States government on counter-terrorist financing-related issues.  According to Asher, "[i]n narrow pursuit of the P5+1 agreement, the administration ... systematically disbanded any ... action ... to dismantle Hezb'allah and the Iran 'Action Network' ... [for fear these would] derail the administration's policy agenda focused on Iran."

Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.), who chairs the committee, denounced the Obama administration in April 2016 for allowing Iran "to launder dollars while the administration looked the other way."  The hearing he held last week aimed at finding new ways to curb Iran's and Hezb'allah's international crime syndicates that fund its terrorist activities.

One day before the Senate voted on advancing the "Countering Iran's Destabilizing Activities Act of 2017," former secretary of state John Kerry argued against "the danger" of new sanctions.  "Our bellicosity is pushing them into a corner," and the imposition of new sanctions after old ones were relaxed with Obama's deal with Iran could be seen as a "provocation" by Iran, he warned.  His former counterpart, Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif, followed suit, calling the newly proposed sanctions "repugnant."

Obama is no longer the president, but Democrats in Congress continue his "Iran first" legacy.  Last week, 92 senators voted to advance with the Countering Iran's Destabilizing Activities Act of 2017 to impose new sanctions on Iran's ballistic missile program and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, enforce arms embargoes, and block assets of individuals engaged in terrorism and human rights violations in Iran.  The six senators who voted against, Carper (D-Del.); Durbin (D-Ill.); Feinstein (D-Calif.); Gillibrand (D-N.Y.); Merkley (D-Ore.), and Sanders (I-Vt.), argued in favor of postponing the vote "as a goodwill gesture" to the Iranians after last week's ISIS attack on the Parliament and Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's shrine in Tehran.

Incredibly, Sen. Carper called to "hit the pause button," suggesting that the sanctions would be akin to "rubbing salt into a wound[.] ... [L]et's wait a few days and consider what to do."  Displaying his lack of minimal understanding of the mullahs' terrorist regime, he argued, "If we were in their shoes, I think we would appreciate that gesture."  One wonders why Sen. Carper and his colleagues continue to call for "goodwill gestures" toward Iran, which has unfailingly proven its hostility to the U.S.  The Obama "Iran first" policy followers in Congress have been demonstrating a dangerous delusion that Iran, which supports global terrorism; advances its own and North Korea's nuclear agendas; and encourages mobs chanting "Death to America," "Death to Israel," and "Death to Saudi Arabia" is a friend, not a cunning, maniacal enemy of the U.S.

The savvy Iranians are quick to adopt the pro-Iran Democrats' phrases when protesting U.S. sanctions.  On Monday, Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman, Bahram Qassemi, echoed Sen. Carper, saying the new sanctions show "lack of goodwill."  Another Iranian official, like former secretary Kerry, claimed that Iran sees the new sanctions as "shameful" and in violation of "the principle of goodwill and successful implementation of the JCPOA."

To ease economic sanction and payments to Iran and to sidestep Congress, James Clapper, Obama's director of National Intelligence, removed Iran and Hezb'allah as sponsors of terrorism from the "Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Communities" in February 2015.  The loud criticism of this report, apparently, kept both on the U.S. government designation as terrorists, but the money to Iran kept flowing.

On January 16, 2016, when Obama announced the signing of the JCPOA, he did not mention that Iran will be allowed to trade in U.S. dollars through offshore dollar clearing.  "The president instructed to change the venue through which Iran could access and launder the U.S. dollar, all the while admitting that some of that money will be used to advance the terrorist agenda of terrorist-designated Islamic Republic of Iran."  John Kerry has acknowledged publicly that money given to Iran would be given to terrorists.

On October 2016, the U.S. Treasury Department updated its "Frequently Asked Questions Relating to the Lifting of Certain U.S. Sanctions Under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)," which allowed  foreign (i.e., non-U.S.) financial institutions to engage in offshore U.S. dollar clearing "as long as U.S. financial institutions were not involved" and as long as they "ensure[d] that a counterparty is not owned more than 50% by the IRGC or its affiliates/agents."

The new sanctions on Iran should prevent any money going to any business, organizations, and individuals involved in the regime's overt and covert military operations.  The Trump administration's efforts to curb Iran's activities would also be helped by finding out how much money the Obama administration funneled to Iran and its proxies since he took office in 2009.

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