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Iran Deal Finances Corruption, Terrorism

Iran Deal Finances Corruption, Terrorism
Earlier this month, American Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley spoke during a Security Council meeting on the situation in Iran, at U.N. headquarters in New York. (Mary Altaffer/AP)

Monday, 22 January 2018 01:05 PM Current | Bio | Archive

On Jan. 12, President Trump agreed to conditionally continue easing economic sanctions established by the Obama administration’s nuclear Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) which he has referred to as "one of the worst deals he has ever seen." Typically referred to as the "Iran deal," the plan puts limits on Iran’s nuclear program in return for easing economic sanctions.

The White House released an announcement stating that the administration will impose new sanctions on 14 Iranian people or agencies. Trump also warned that the waiver — which must be issued every 120 days to keep the sanctions from kicking back in — will be the last one he issues. He said, "I am waiving the application of certain nuclear sanctions, but only in order to secure our European allies' agreement to fix the terrible flaws of the Iran nuclear deal. This is a last chance."

Decisions and actions on JCPOA come at a particularly challenging time when impacts upon a growing Iran anti-government protest movement must be carefully considered. The current revolt is quite different from the 2008 protest that the Obama administration largely ignored which primarily sought a more moderate government. This one which goes so far as to challenge control by Iran’s Islamic regime, also has a large economic component.

Vast numbers who are impoverished by unemployment and inflation had hoped that JCPOA would have brought economic benefits. It didn’t . . . the money needed for international investment went to other countries to finance terrorism. Complaints that their government has been spending billions to prop up Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and to wage proxy wars are being voiced in Iranian protests across the country.

As Secretary of State Rex Tillerson confirmed last week, "Iran has dramatically strengthened its presence in Syria by deploying Iranian Revolutionary Guard troops, supporting Lebanese Hezbollah, and importing proxy forces from Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and elsewhere."

Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton warns, "The ayatollahs are using Mr. Obama’s handiwork to legitimize their terrorist state, facilitate (and conceal) their continuing nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs, and acquire valuable resources from gullible negotiating partners."

Standing before remnants of a missile fired by Houthi militants in Yemen at an airport in Saudi Arabia last September, U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley pointed out, "In this warehouse is concrete evidence of illegal Iranian weapons proliferation gathered from direct military attacks on our partners in the region."

JCPOA-related corruption is also rampant. The Supreme Court of Iran sentenced billionaire businessman Babak Zanjani to death in 2016 for withholding billions in oil revenue channeled through his companies. One of Iran's richest men, Zanjani was blacklisted by the U.S. and E.U. for helping Iran evade oil sanctions during the presidency of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Reuters reported in March, 2016, that Iranian-born Turkish businessman Reza Zarab was arrested in Florida on charges that he and others also conspired to conduct large financial transactions for the Iranian government or other entities to evade JCPOA sanctions. Zarab told jurors in a New York federal court that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan authorized the sanction-circumvention scheme.

Zarab helped Iran use funds deposited at his bank account to buy gold, which was smuggled to Dubai and sold for cash. He said that he later had to stop the gold trades and start moving money through fake food purchases after U.S. sanctions changed.

An Israeli video released last week shows a huge shipment of U.S. currency packed in Red Cross boxes they intercepted that was destined for Hamas, a Palestinian Sunni-Islamic fundamentalist organization. The military wing of Hamas has launched suicide and rocket attacks against Israeli civilians and soldiers.

That shipment is reminiscent of $400 million in cash the Obama administration secretly airlifted to Tehran at the same time they released four jailed Americans. The ransom money had been procured from central banks in Switzerland and the Netherlands, was stacked on wooden pallets, and flown to Tehran in an unmarked cargo plane. The settlement coincided with the formal implementation of JCPOA.

That desperate agreement came at a very high cost to America too. As reported by Politico.com, "The Obama administration stymied a sprawling investigation into the terror group Hezbollah — and its highly lucrative drug- trafficking networks — to protect the Iran nuclear deal."

A team at the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) had been working for almost a decade to bring down the Iran-backed militant organization’s sophisticated $1 billion-a-year drug ring which laundered money and smuggled cocaine into the United States.

Last February, former Treasury Department official Katherine Bauer admitted in little-noticed testimony to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, "under the Obama administration . . . these [Hezbollah-related] investigations were tamped down for fear of rocking the boat with Iran and jeopardizing the nuclear deal."

It may very well be time to pull the plug and sink that leaky boat altogether.

Larry Bell is an endowed professor of space architecture at the University of Houston where he founded the Sasakawa International Center for Space Architecture (SICSA) and the graduate program in space architecture. He is the author of "Scared Witless: Prophets and Profits of Climate Doom" (2015) and "Climate of Corruption: Politics and Power Behind the Global Warming Hoax" (2012).  He is currently working on a new book with Buzz Aldrin, "Beyond Footprints and Flagpoles." Read more of his reports — Click Here Now.

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The Iran deal plan puts limits on Iran’s nuclear program in return for easing economic sanctions. It may very well be time to pull the plug and sink that leaky boat altogether.
jcpoa, netherlands, switzerland
Monday, 22 January 2018 01:05 PM
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