Rubio would “absolutely” re-impose sanctions on Iran

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), who is seeking the 2016 Presidential nomination, took a center seat Thursday on the “Special Report” panel to discuss an earlier Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing where members of Congress questioned Secretary of State John Kerry on the Iran nuclear agreement.

“The centrifuges that they have now are quite frankly ancient,” said Rubio in response to Sen. Bob Corker’s earlier comments during the hearing that these same centrifuges were “antiques.”

“They now have less of them but the ones they’re going to have are going to be better and be able to expand that capability for years to come. The other is this down payment. This immediate signing bonus that you get. That the administration said today would be about 50 billion dollars and they think this money is going to be spent to rebuild the Iranian economy but in fact nothing in Iran’s track record suggests that.”

As Congress continues their 60-day review, President Barack Obama has promised to veto any vote against the deal. Kerry told the committee there is no "fantasy" alternative if the U.S. rejects the deal standing behind the notion that the deal will keep Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.

“These are still in place but what the president is using is a national security waiver,” continued Rubio. “He’s in essence saying I’m using this waiver to prevent these sanctions from still being imposed. The next president could just lift that, with the stroke of a pen, lift that waiver and immediately re-impose sanctions. You can do that on day one in the first hour of your presidency, in the first week of your presidency.”

Bret Baier followed up by asking if “President Rubio” would re-impose sanctions immediately to which Rubio responded, “absolutely, and I said so today at the hearing.”

The Apple of Iran

By Emily Cyr, Summer College Associate

The idea of life without Apple Inc. is one that seems incomprehensible to most Americans. But in Iran, this is largely a reality, and one that may soon end.

With the recent Iran nuclear deal meant to lift the U.S. imposed economic sanctions on the Islamic Republic of Iran, there is talk of Apple expanding into the Iranian market. But this means more than just selling iPhones.

In February of 2014, the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets issued General License D-1 for Iran, allowing the exportation of “certain services, software, and hardware incident to personal communications”. However, this is limited technology meant to provide greater information access to the people of Iran.

One concern expressed by the United States government is the use of Apple technologies for practices that are considered dangerous or unlawful. According to Apple’s Global Trade Compliance: “It is prohibited to allow certain countries to use Apple products in the design, development, production or use of nuclear, missiles, and chemical and biological weapons and technology without proper authorization from the U.S. Government.” The 22 countries exempt from this initiative include 17 European countries along with Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, and Turkey.

According to a Wall Street Journal 2014 report, Apple would most likely not even be opening stores in Iran with this deal. The company hopes to sell Apple products through distributors, from which they will receive a portion of the profits. Though it seems like a small step into the market, it could bring great gains.

Iran has a population of about 80 million, with 32 million of its residents under the age of 30 and seeking western products. Combined with the new government easing up on internet censorship, and only about 11 million with mobile internet access, this means there is a substantial market in Iran, with room for growth.  

However, despite these lucrative prospects, Apple must be cautious for fear of a “snap back” if Iran fails to abide by the rules of the agreement. In fact, it could take nearly a year for Apple and other companies to begin business, since Iran must fully implement the terms of the agreement before western products can permeate Iran.

So for now, Apple may be keeping its interests domestic, after releasing its record $ 1.24 million spent on lobbying for the first quarter of 2015. And Iran will have to settle for Samsung and LG Electronics. 

Kasich: Obama Administration “In Love” With Iran Deal

Ohio Governor John Kasich (R) told viewers Tuesday  on “Special Report with Bret Baier” that with regard to the Obama Administration’s push for a nuclear deal with Iran,  “it's very dangerous to fall in love with your own idea. And, I think the administration has probably fallen in love with the fact that they want to get an agreement, and when people are hyperventilating and unable to get one, sometimes they go and they sign something that they shouldn't.”

Negotiators from Iran, Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States meeting in Vienna did not meet their self-imposed deadline on Tuesday for an agreement on a deal to curb Iran’s nuclear program, giving themselves until Friday to negotiate. Sticking points in reaching an agreement include Iranian demands for the lifting of a U.N. arms embargo and ballistic missiles sanctions, a timeframe for U.S. and EU sanctions relief, and future Iranian nuclear research and development.

Currently U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and  Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif remain in Vienna, but Kasich, who is expected to announce his candidacy for the Republican Presidential nomination on June 21, said that the Obama Administration is more preoccupied than getting any deal, rather than getting a good deal: “ Just remember Reagan in Reykjavik where Gorbachev said, look, get rid of all nuclear weapons, and I remember Reagan getting back in the car and saying ‘no, we're not gonna do that.’

“So, you have to have the strength to walk away. The problem, Bret, with all of this is just listen to our Arab friends who say, 'listen, if you give the Iranians all this cash by lifting the sanctions, they're going to fund Hamas. They're going to fund Hezbollah' who is the enemy to the Arab nations that we have things in common with. You know the proliferation of these weapons is really kind of unthinkable, and the consequences of that. So, I don't think it's a good agreement, I would leave the sanctions in place until I saw a determined change in what Iran is all about, so I think, I'm very concerned about this.”

IRAN: A few key points

From Chief Washington Correspondent James Rosen

First, this is not a deal; it is the outline of a deal, and the technical experts for the seven countries (P5+1 and Iran) now have until June 30 to try to hammer out the fine print. As President Obama said in the Rose Garden: “our work is not yet done.  The deal has not been signed.”

Second, the reduction in the number of installed centrifuges, from 19,000 to 6,104, is significant – a reduction of roughly two-thirds – but we should remember that that was roughly the number of centrifuges Iran had installed when Barack Obama became president in 2009. As we have shown, roughly 75 percent of the centrifuges Iran has installed were installed on the Obama-Biden watch.

Also, earlier this week, Dr. Olli Heinonen, the former deputy director of the IAEA – one of the most respected arms control officials of his generation – told reporters that an agreement that enables roughly 6,500 centrifuges to remain in place would not have the effect of lengthening Iran’s “breakout time” (the length of time it would take Tehran to build a bomb if the regime abruptly nullified an agreement and made a mad dash for a weapons capability) from the current estimate of 60-90 days to one year, as the Obama administration claims the agreement does. Heinonen said on March 31: “[I]f there are 6,500 centrifuges remaining, installed and in operation, it might be difficult to get it to one year or longer, the breakout time. It will be clearly below [that]. And then we have to add all the uncertainties, the unknowns to this image: Are there some unknown nuclear materials? Are there some unknown centrifuges?”

Next: The fact sheet released by the State Department in Lausanne provides details of how IAEA inspections would work, including the ability of U.N. nuclear inspectors to have “regular access to all of Iran’s nuclear facilities”; “continuous surveillance” of centrifuge rotors; and access to any sites deemed “suspicious” for whatever reason. But the provisions outlined do not appear to include snap inspections.

As part of the transparency provisions, Iran will “implement an agreed upon set of measures to address the IAEA’s concerns regarding the possible military dimension (PMD) of its program.” The problem there is that the JPOA, the framework under which these negotiations have unfolded for the last sixteen months, provided that Iran was already supposed to do that – come clean to the IAEA about Tehran’s research a decade ago, into warhead design and re-entry vehicles. And that never happened. The IAEA certified that while Iran complied over the course of the negotiations, and still is, with its obligations to enrich only to certain levels, to dilute higher-enriched stockpiles down, etc., the IAEA has also certified that Iran has stonewalled on the PMD. President Obama in the Rose Garden papered over that: “Iran's past efforts to weaponize its program will be addressed” was all he said.

Finally, we refer to the president’s comments before the Brookings Institution’s Saban Forum in December 2013, when these negotiations were just getting underway. He said then: “[W]e know that they don’t need to have an underground, fortified facility like Fordow in order to have a peaceful nuclear program.  They certainly don’t need a heavy-water reactor at Arak in order to have a peaceful nuclear program.” The abandonment of those positions shows how far the U.S. dialed back its negotiation posture over the course of the talks.

al-Qaeda's Secret Ties with Iran

New Docs Reveal Osama bin Laden's Secret Ties With Iran

Thomas Joscelyn

This week, prosecutors in New York introduced eight documents recovered in Osama bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan as evidence in the trial of a terrorism suspect. The U.S. government accuses Abid Naseer of taking part in al Qaeda’s scheme to attack targets in Europe and New York City. And prosecutors say the documents are essential for understanding the scope of al Qaeda’s plotting.

More than 1 million documents and files were captured by the Navy Seals who raided bin Laden’s safe house in Abbottabad, Pakistan in May 2011. One year later, in May 2012, the Obama administration released just 17 of them.

While there is some overlap between the files introduced as evidence in Brooklyn and those that were previously made public in 2012, much of what is in the trial exhibits had never been made public before.

The files do not support the view, promoted by some in the Obama administration, that bin Laden was in “comfortable retirement,” “sidelined,” or “a lion in winter” in the months leading up to his death. On the contrary, bin Laden is asked to give his order on a host of issues, ranging from the handling of money to the movement of terrorist operatives.

Some of the key revelations in the newly-released bin Laden files relate to al Qaeda’s dealings with Iran and presence in Afghanistan.

For the rest of this story please click here--

 

Obama’s Failure

Stephen F. Hayes

Barack Obama wants us all to simmer down about Iran. He wants Senator Bob Menendez, a fellow Democrat, and the donors he represents to butt out of the sanctions debate. He wants Republicans to quit crying wolf about Iran’s nuclear weapons program. He wants the media to stop hyping terror threats. He wants the American people in the dark about the secret correspondence he’s had for years with Iran’s supreme leader. He wants John Boehner to be mindful of protocol. And most of all, he wants Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu to stop questioning his accommodationist approach to Tehran. 

With the breezy confidence that is his trademark, the president has repeatedly delivered a reassuring message on Iran to the country and the world: Trust me.

With respect, Mr. President: No.

From the earliest moments of his first term, Obama sought to convince the country that threats from our erstwhile enemies were overblown. He forged an approach to jihadist attacks and rogue regimes meant to be a stark contrast from that of his predecessor. He ended the war on terror, quietly sought rapprochement with radical Islamist movements like the Muslim Brotherhood and the Taliban, and ostentatiously undertook a more conciliatory approach to terror-sponsoring regimes like Syria and Iran.

Notwithstanding periodic drone strikes on bad guys, Obama has demonstrated repeatedly that his instinct is to ignore, dismiss, or downplay threats to the United States and its interests and allies. The record over six years is a long list of mistaken judgments, awkward euphemisms, and false assurances.

To read the rest of this story please click here--

And you probably read this months ago, but 

Al Qaeda Wasn’t ‘on the Run’
Why haven’t we seen the documents retrieved in the bin Laden raid?

Steve Hayes

The initial scrub took several weeks. It was never meant to be comprehensive. “It was more data-mining than analysis,” says one intelligence official with knowledge of the project. Researchers and analysts searched the documents for key names, phone numbers, and addresses that could be used by U.S. troops to target senior al Qaeda leaders. In subsequent congressional testimony, James Clapper, director of national intelligence, reported that there were “over 400 intelligence reports that were issued in the initial aftermath immediately after the raid.”

Then the document exploitation stopped. According to sources with detailed knowledge of the handling of the documents, the CIA did little to build on the project after the initial burst of intelligence reports. 

Officials at the Defense Intelligence Agency and CENTCOM responsible for providing analysis to U.S. troops fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan wanted to study the documents. But the CIA had “executive authority” over the collection and blocked any outside access to them. 

The ensuing bureaucratic fight, reminiscent of the intragovernment battles that led to the reorganization of the intelligence community after 9/11, unfolded over the spring and fall of 2011. It was resolved, at least temporarily, when then-CIA director David Petraeus weighed in on behalf of the team from CENTCOM and the DIA, a move that did little to improve his standing with the CIA bureaucracy. Petraeus was angry when he learned that the CIA hadn’t been actively exploiting the documents, and as the former head of CENTCOM, he was sympathetic to the pleas from military intelligence. The dispute made its way to Clapper, who met with representatives of the warring agencies and agreed that DIA and CENTCOM should be allowed to study the documents.

For the rest of this story please click here-- 

 

House approves measure to deny Iranian diplomat visa for UN

The House of Representatives ok'd a bill by unanimous consent to deny a visa for Hamid Aboutalebi. Iran has appointed Aboutalebi to be its Ambassador to the United Nations. But he was a player in the Iranian uprising which seized the US Embassy in Tehran in 1979 and took American hostage for 444 days.

The Senate approved by unanimous consent a measure to deny a visa for Aboutalebi earlier this week. Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY) crafted the plan.

More on this story tonight from correspondent Eric Shawn on Special Report--

 

 

Kerry's testimony on Iran nuclear deal: what to expect

--The hearing is slotted for 3 hours and there should be votes on the House floor around 4 pm et.
 
--House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) and Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), the top Democrat on the panel, will have opening   statements which each run five minutes.
 
--Kerry will then have a five-minute opening statement...but could go longer.
 
--Each member will get one round of 5 minutes with Kerry after that, starting with Royce and Engel and then alternating between the sides.
 
--We also expect some comments and questions on uprisings in Ukraine.
 
--Members from both sides of the aisle are not pleased with the Iran deal and Kerry is imploring Congress (especially the Senate) to not impose a new sanctions regime on Tehran for fear that would blow up the accord brokered in Geneva.

Senator Saxby Chambliss on Special Report!

Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, will join Bret Baier on set for an exclusive interview tonight. 

They will discuss today’s meeting on Iran between President Obama and a bipartisan group of Senators. We will also ask Senator Chambliss about the reported letter the President plans to send the Afghan people acknowledging mistakes made during the 'war on terror' to be presented ahead of a key vote by tribal elders later this week.

Don't miss Special Report w/ Bret Baier tonight at 6pmET on Fox News Channel! What would you ask Senator Chambliss? Tweet us @BretBaier or share with us on Facebook at facebook.com/bretbaiersr and your name and question might just end up on our air! 

US Exposes Iranian Shipping Scheme

 

 

UNITED STATES EXPOSES IRANIAN SHIPPING SCHEME

Action Identifies Individual, Companies and Vessels

Working to Conceal Iran’s Sales of Oil

 

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of the Treasury today imposed sanctions on a Greek businessman, Dr. Dimitris Cambis, who helped Iran evade international oil sanctions.  Through several of his front companies, Cambis used Iranian funds to purchase oil tankers and disguised the Iranian origin of oil transported on these vessels.  Cambis, and all of the companies listed today, have been identified as acting on behalf of the Government of Iran and are subject to sanctions pursuant to Executive Order 13599, which blocks the property of the Government of Iran.  The Department of State is taking concurrent action today against Cambis under the Iran Sanctions Act as amended by the Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act of 2012 (TRA).

“Today we are lifting the veil on an intricate Iranian scheme that was designed to evade international oil sanctions,” said Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David S. Cohen.  “We will continue to expose deceptive Iranian practices, and to sanction those individuals and entities who participate in these schemes.”

Cambis, President of Impire Shipping Limited (Impire), established his shipping company, as well as several front companies, to purchase oil tankers while disguising the fact that the tankers were being purchased on behalf of the National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC).  These front companies were used to obscure the fact that these vessels, which are capable of carrying roughly 200 million dollars worth of oil per shipment, are the property of the Iranian government.  Another front company, Libra Shipping, operates the vessels Cambis and Impire purchased on behalf of NITC with the aim of loading them with Iranian oil supplied by the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC).  These operations are conducted through a series of ship-to-ship transfers in an attempt to mask the fact that the true origin of the oil is from Iran and to introduce it into the global market as if it were non-Iranian oil.  In December 2012, for example, NITC and Impire completed a ship-to-ship transfer of Iranian oil off Khor Fakkah, U.A.E.  These operations are a clear example of NITC’s ongoing business practices designed to deceive the international community and evade sanctions.  To date, Treasury has identified 58 vessels as blocked property in which NITC has an interest.

Today, Treasury is also identifying the eight tankers purchased by Cambis on behalf of NITC, the eight front companies that nominally own them, as well as a network of Iranian government front companies that provided some of the funds that Impire Shipping Company used to purchase vessels for NITC.  This network of Iranian government front companies includes Sima General Trading, Polinex General Trading, Asia Energy General Trading and Synergy General Trading.

Sima General Trading Company and Asia Energy General Trading have each made payments of more than $100 million to Impire.  Polinex General Trading Company has also supplied money to Impire for the purchase of oil tankers.

This network of UAE-based Iranian government front companies has conducted business on behalf of previously sanctioned entities such as Naftiran Intertrade Company (NICO) Sarl, which was identified as a Government of Iran entity in 2008.  Sima General Trading and Asia Energy General Trading conduct business on behalf of NICO Sarl, and NICO Sarl has made payments to Synergy General Trading.  Additionally, Hong Kong Intertrade Company, which was identified as a front company for NICO or NIOC in July 2012, has made payments to Polinex General Trading.

U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in any transactions with Dimitris Cambis or the entities blocked pursuant to E.O. 13599, and any assets they may have under U.S. jurisdiction are blocked.

What will President Obama's second term look like?

More on this tonight on Special Report including the President Obama's cabinet-- who will stay and who will go? And what challenges lie ahead for the president and his administration? 


 


Also, the latest news on a breaking story--a US military drone fired upon last week by Iran over international waters-- why are we just learning about this now? And Catherine Herridge with a Benghazi update for us all at 6pm ET on Special Report!


 


Please follow Bret on Twitter @BretBaier-- we are so close to 300,000 followers!


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