The U.S. Needs to Protect the Iranian Opposition in Iraq — and Counter Tehran in the Region

noviembre 5, 2015On the night of Oct. 29, Camp Liberty, which houses some 2,250 Iranian exiles, was the target of a rocket attack that killed 23 people. En route to the Vienna Talks on Syria, Secretary John Kerry quickly condemned the attack and offered the United States’ condolences “to the families of the victims, and we hope for the swift recovery of those injured.” He added, “We also urge the Government of Iraq to provide additional security for the camp’s residents and to find the perpetrators and hold them accountable for the attack, consistent with its obligations under the Dec. 25, 2011 agreement with the United Nations.”

The Associated Press and the Washington Times both covered the attack. Agence France Presse and the conservative news service CNS, reported bipartisan congressional calls for action. Digital Journal included a link to detailed video footage. Another clip shows the scene shortly after the attack. The calls included two Republicans, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Ed Royce and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, as well as a Democrat Rep. Judy Chu.

Critics of the Mujahideen-e Khalq (MEK) might say that the media coverage is really not independent because each one merely quotes what the Iranian dissidents said. But I say that when the mainstream media gives so much ink to a story, it is some evidence that they take the allegations seriously.

Critics might also say that members of Congress supportive of the MEK are acting in the interest of campaign contributions. But I say that the burden is on the naysayers to provide the evidence linking Royce, Ros-Lehtinen, and Chu as being “bought off” by the MEK. I am personally aquatinted with each of them, and I am impressed with their integrity and commitment to the MEK especially on humanitarian grounds. The attack is the epitome of a humanitarian tragedy.

Why is Iran targeting its opposition? Dissidents are trying to block Tehran’s aspirations to control Baghdad and Damascus, where the United States is fighting the Islamic State. Washington’s evolving strategy is dead on arrival on the Hill unless the Obama administration reaches out to the opposition and sees Iran as a threat across the porous border.

So how can it counter the threat from Iran? Align with others opposing Tehran and the bipartisan congressional coalition sharing that view.

Saudi Arabia’s alignment against Iran includes Israel as a silent partner. Saudis view Tehran and Damascus unfavorably. A potential partner for Riyadh and Washington is the Iranian resistance that rejects clerical rule in Tehran. All define the threat as Islamist.

On Oct. 5, 2015 Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir asked whether Iran is a “state or a revolution,” If it wants to export its 1979 revolution and revive the Persian Empire, “we cannot deal with it,” said Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in his speech before the U.N. on Oct. 1. Shifting alliances in the Middle East are drawing Arab countries like Saudi Arabia closer to Israel in confronting Iran and the Islamic State. Netanyahu’s Mar. 3 speech before the Congress stated that, “Iran’s regime poses a grave threat, not only to Israel, but also the peace of the entire world.”

Both Adel al-Jubeir and Netanyahu have previously distanced themselves from the MEK on different grounds. On one hand, Saudis attribute too much power to the MEK because of their role in bringing down the Shah — if their supporters can topple the Shah, perhaps they will side with those who wish to bring down the Kingdom. On the other hand, Netanyahu believes that the MEK is of too little consequence to cause even further trouble with the State Department, which fails to reach out to the MEK. Both assessments are based on my interviews with high level Saudis and Israelis.

My take is that the MEK is neither strong nor weak based on indicators like the following. According to my research, reported in my book Arab Rebels and Iranian Dissidents, during mid-2000, the Iranian regime paid more attention to the MEK than to all other groups combined, created expositions in every major city of Iran to warn the youths of the pro-democracy views of the organization, and paroled Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani’s daughter from prison because she was learning too many subversive ideas from MEK prisoners. In the expositions and the early release, Tehran’s tactics against the MEK backfired.

On Apr. 29, the House Foreign Affairs Committee held a hearing, “ISIS: Defining the Enemy.” Maryam Rajavi is President-Elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), the coalition of which the MEK is the largest unit; she testified from Paris. Her written testimony showed how Tehran is an Islamist epicenter of terrorism to establish an Empire without borders and called for empowering the democratic tolerant Islam she represented.

Critics might argue that it is easy to promise democracy and criticize the regime as being an Islamist epicenter. There is “evidence” the MEK is an intolerant cult, which forces its members to drink the proverbial Kool-Aid. I have interviewed family members of a young girl who committed suicide when Maryam Rajavi was in a Paris jail. The parents told me they did not believe their daughter had done so because of pressure from the MEK. Indeed, when the jailers informed Rajavi of the suicide, she immediately issued a statement saying that she neither sanctions such behavior nor wishes anyone else to do so in the future — not the words of a cult leader.

I grant the jury is out whether the MEK will be as tolerant when the regime falls as Tehran has been intolerant towards the MEK. Think of a soft landing when the regime falls as in the disintegration of communism in Europe or a hard landing like the one in Libya. If soft, then I expect a tolerant MEK.

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Bipartisan consensus: Stop Iran and its missile attacks on Iranian dissidents

iranprotest_timessquare_072215gettyFox News reports a missile attack occurred on Camp Liberty Iraq on October 29; residents include 2,400 members of the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK). About 80 missiles made holes as deep as 7 feet and wide as 8 feet—including 122 mm Katyushas and those Tehran produced—the NB24 Russian missiles.

Why is Iran targeting its opposition? Dissidents block the goal of Tehran—to control Baghdad and Damascus where we are fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Washington’s evolving strategy is DOA on the Hill unless the administration reaches out to the opposition and sees Iran as a threat across the porous border.

How to counter the threat from Iran? Align with others opposing Tehran and the bipartisan congressional coalition sharing that view.

Saudi Arabia’s alignment against Iran includes Israel as a silent partner. Saudis view Tehran and Damascus unfavorably. A potential partner for Riyadh and Washington is the Iranian Resistance that rejects clerical rule in Tehran. All define the threat as Islamist.

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir asked, Is Iran a “state or a revolution?” If it wants to export its 1979 revolution and revive the Persian Empire “we cannot deal with it.” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in his UN speech on October 1 that shifting alliances in the Middle East drew Arab countries like Saudi Arabia closer to Israel in confronting Iran and ISIL. His speech before the Congress stated that, “Iran’s regime poses a grave threat…to the peace.”

On April 29, the House Foreign Affairs Committee held a hearing, “ISIS: Defining the Enemy.” Maryam Rajavi is President-Elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), the coalition of which the MEK is the largest unit; she testified from Paris. Her written testimony showed how Tehran is an Islamist epicenter of terrorism to establish an Empire without borders and called for empowering the democratic tolerant Islam she represented.

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Syria crisis

october8, 2 2015Professor Raymond Tanter appeared on World Insight on 05 October 2015. At the end of the World Insight program 19:08 mins, Prof. Tanter said that National Council of Resistance of Iran intelligence exposes Iran role in Iraq to counter Intel of Moscow, Tehran, and Baghdad.

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“North Korean nuclear & missile experts assist mullahs’ concealment plan in dealing with IAEA inspections”

RT SEPTEMBER 15Please click here to access the full report of allegations by the National Council of Resistance of Iran: The following are excerpts from an article by Kellan Howell of The Washington Times of 4 September 2015


Protracted presence of several North Korean

nuclear & missile experts in Iran

A number of North Korean experts are currently in Tehran

 September 4, 2015


The network of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) has obtained information from within the Iranian regime according to which Tehran has been working on a secret plan to deceive the IAEA’s inspectors when they visit suspect sites in Iran.

For some time, the clerical regime has been working on ways to conceal the military dimension of its nuclear projects from the IAEA.

To do so, it has sought the advice and expertise of North Korean experts by engaging in serious and continuous consultations with them.

Based on this information, a number of North Korean experts are currently based in Tehran. Their stay has continued after the July 14 agreement without any changes in their agenda, and they are working inside Iran.

While other North Korean experts come to Tehran for limited durations, this group has been based in Tehran for several months.

They have expertise in ballistic missile and nuclear work areas, particularly in the fields of warheads and missile guidance.

This specific group is a six-member team and is joined by other groups as well.

The North Korean project and the section in charge of their work in Hemmat Industrial Complex (responsible for development of ballistic missiles) is designated as code 9000. This demonstrates the systematic nature of the regime’s relationship and its collaboration with North Koreans in the missile and nuclear field. It also underscores its significance as far as the regime is concerned.

This six-man team is only one group of North Korean experts stationed in Tehran. Specifically, the team collaborates with Nouri Industries, which is concentrating on the production of ballistic missile warheads for Shahab-3 and Ghadr missiles. Both missiles can carry a nuclear payload. Nouri Industries is identified with code 8500.

Nouri Industries actively and systematically cooperates with the “Center for Research and Design of New Aerospace Technologies,” which is one of the seven sub-divisions of the “Organization of Defensive Innovation and Research” (known by its Farsi acronym SPND). Experts of SPND are in constant liaison with the Nouri Industries.

The Iran Deal Needs Bipartisanship

Senate Foreign Relations Cmte Holds Hearing On Human TraffickingThe Obama administration has shown distaste for congressional checks on executive power, and an unwillingness to entertain bipartisan concerns from policymakers.A struggle for power among competing centers for which narrative of history to use in making choices for the future, a belief in human fallibility, and need to block a new tyrant from emerging led the Founders to adopt separation of powers.
While paying lip service to the U.S. system of checks and balances in office, the President is rebuffing what he deems interference by legislators, as Congress readies its review of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action — a nuclear deal with Tehran that is receiving bipartisan criticism on the Hill.

By advancing a U.N. Security Council (UNSC) vote on the Iran nuclear agreement, the Obama administration violated its pledge to provide Congress with a meaningful role in reviewing the deal. The Obama administration’s approach demonstrates “bad faith” with the intent of the 2015 Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, which authorizes congressional oversight of the deal.

The country is well served by vigorous, bipartisan discussion between the executive and legislative branches and when neither side is able to dictate outcomes alone.

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A ‘bad’ nuclear deal with Iran would jeopardize world peace

julio 11 - 15Most people would wish that President Obama succeeds in striking a deal with Iran that will see it shut down its nuclear centres, halt uranium enrichment and give up permanently the goal of obtaining a nuclear weapon. Iran however has shown next to no signs that it will forgo its nuclear weapons program. What most of us don’t know is how ordinary Iranian citizens opposed to the mullahs’ regime would feel about a “bad deal” that would see Tehran cheat its way to the bomb as it stalls world powers.

Amineh Qaraee, 34, and her brother Ehsan, 28, who fled the mullahs’ persecution to Norway four years ago, have a striking story. As children, they witnessed their parents’ arrest and imprisonment for supporting the People’s Mojahedin Organization (PMOI/MEK), the main moderate Muslim group opposed to Khomeini’s theocratic rule.

“When I was just one-year-old my father got arrested, and two months later my mother got arrested with me and they took us to prison. There I had to live between people who got arrested and tortured just because they wanted freedom”, Amineh recounts in a moving video testimonial.

“I spent some months in prison until they let my mother deliver me to my grandparents. My mother was in prison for more than two years and my father for four years.”

Soon after his release, Amineh’s father, a teacher by profession, was again arrested for his political opinions.

“Finally they informed us that they had killed my father and 30,000 other political activists even though all of them were sentenced to some years in prison, not execution”, she adds before breaking down into tears. This has prompted them to join the cause of supporting human rights and democratic change in Iran through different activities, including promoting petitions and other initiatives through facebook, twitter and youtube.

The Qaraees are not the only families of victims of the mullahs left to deal with the torment of losing their loved ones. The Tehran regime has executed more than 120,000 political prisoners, mostly MEK supporters, in the past 36 years. Their families who live in daily agony number in the millions. An overwhelming majority of Iranians have been harmed or affected in some form by the regime in its 36-year rule.

A robust, strong deal with strong inspection regime will manifest Ayatollahs’ weakness and strategic deadlock and embolden Iranian people for their rights. Yet, like many other Iranians opposed to the regime, Amineh and Ehsan are nervous that a “bad nuclear deal” allowing Tehran to go nuclear while duping the West would strengthen the regime.  Such an outcome will lead to the situation where the Revolutionary Guards would feel strengthened and would suppress any dissent with even greater brutality. The world would then become silent in the face of all the crimes of this regime.

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Kim Jong-unIran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei

Please click here to access the full report of allegations by the National Council of Resistance of Iran:

Because of  Cooperation between Iranian regime and North Korea in the nuclear field, nuclear warhead and ballistic missiles

Unsettling Report on Iran and North Korea 

By Carol Giacomo, The New York Times 

May 28, 2015

As the clock ticks down to a June 30 deadline for a nuclear deal with Iran, the news has emerged that North Korean nuclear and missile experts may (I emphasize may because I have seen no confirmation) have visited a military site near Tehran last month.

If the report from an Iranian resistance group via Reuters is true, the timing could hardly be worse, at least optically. This is a moment when Iran needs to be doing its best to prove its good intentions to the international community, not flaunting ties to a country with an active nuclear weapons program and a record of threatening behavior.

The nuclear agreement being negotiated between Iran and the major powers – the United States, China, Britain, France, Russia and Germany – is already highly controversial and powerful hardline enemies in Iran, the United States, Israel and elsewhere are working to derail it. If Iran’s top leaders really want a deal, which would lift international sanctions in return for curbs on their nuclear program, it is counter-productive to give the opponents more ammunition that could thwart that goal.

There are reasons to doubt the report. The Iranian embassy in Paris has already repudiated it. It was based on information from the National Council of Resistance of Iran, which has spent years working to undermine the Iranian republic. Although the group’s disclosure in 2002 about Iran’s uranium enrichment plant at Natanz was accurate, its track record overall has been spotty.

But even if the report is true, what does hosting North Korean experts say about Iran? It has been known for quite a while that representatives of Iran and North Korea frequently meet and have had dealings on ballistic missiles, which would not be covered by the nuclear deal. In February, a report from the United States intelligence community noted, as intelligence officials have in the past, North Korea’s “export of ballistic missiles and associated materials to several countries, including Iran and Syria.”

And while Iran and North Korea both were customers of A.Q. Khan, the disgraced mastermind of Pakistan’s nuclear program, an American official told me Thursday that the United States government has seen nothing to suggest Iran is cooperating with North Korea on nuclear weapons.

Such cooperation would belie Tehran’s insistence that it is not pursuing a nuclear weapon and would necessarily blow up any nuclear agreement. But even if a nuclear deal is reached, the major powers will need to watch vigilantly to make sure that Iran doesn’t switch from developing the technology that could enable it to produce a bomb to buying one from North Korea.

28 May 2015

State Department Briefing

Exchange on NCRI revelation

May 28, 2015

Watch the Video Clip About this Exchange

 Matthew Lee (AP): On Iran. Have you seen this new report from the Iranian opposition about Iran-North Korea nuclear cooperation? And whether you have or not, can you – well, if you have, can you speak to it? And if you – well, if you haven’t, I’ll —

MR RATHKE: Let me answer that one and then you can follow up. So we have seen these claims, and we take any such reports seriously. If I can perhaps anticipate one part of your follow-up, we’re examining the report but we don’t have any information at this time that would lead us to believe that these allegations impact our ongoing negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program.

QUESTION: If the allegations are correct, how could that not impact the negotiations?

MR RATHKE: Well, again, we – these allegations – we’re taking them seriously, we’re examining them. I don’t have a stamp to put on them and say whether we’re we able to verify them or not. We don’t – we have not been able to verify them thus far. We’re examining the report and —

QUESTION: This isn’t the first – this isn’t the first time there have been allegations.

MR RATHKE: That’s true. This group has made —

Liz Labott (CNN): No, but others have also said that Iran – there is a significant amount of cooperation between the two. So are you saying that you have no reason to believe that there is such cooperation, or these particular allegations are unfounded?

MR RATHKE: Well, I’m not saying that they’re unfounded. I’m just saying we don’t have – we’re examining these allegations. They’re serious. I’m not able to verify them.

LIZ Labott (CNN): So if you haven’t – if you’re not able to substantiate whether they’re true or not, how do you know if they’ll impact the negotiations? I mean, if they’re true, feasibly that would impact your negotiations.

MR RATHKE: Well, based on the information that we have at this time, which is the way I would put it.

LEE (AP): If you say, as – that the allegations are serious, why wouldn’t – is this something that’s not going to come up in the negotiations?

MR RATHKE: Well, I’m not going to speak to what’s going to come up in the room. But again, serious allegations and we’re looking at them seriously.

QUESTION: Well, let’s put it this way: cutting off Iran’s pathways to a nuclear weapon is a subject that comes up in negotiations, is it not?

MR RATHKE: Certainly.

QUESTION: Okay. So is sanctions relief, is it not?


Arshad Mohammed (Reuters): Okay. So you’ve just said two things that are involved in the negotiations. You’ve also said that on the sidelines of the negotiations, the fate or the status of the Americans being held or missing comes up.

MR RATHKE: Yes. Right, that is the case.

QUESTION: Why can’t you say whether allegations of Iran’s – of Iranian cooperation or work with North Korea would come up as part of the negotiations?

MR RATHKE: Well, let me take a step back. First, with respect to North Korea, we continue to work with the international community to exercise vigilance over their proliferation activities worldwide. This is the subject of numerous UN Security Council resolutions. They prohibit the transfer to or from the DPRK of goods, technology, of any assistance related to nuclear ballistic missile or other weapons of mass destruction. You’re familiar with all this, but there is of course a very elaborate international framework, including UN Security Council resolutions, as well as unilateral actions, to address the DPRK’s nuclear and missile programs.

And in the same way, any cooperation with Iran on proliferation-sensitive nuclear or ballistic activities would also violate relevant UN Security Council resolutions on Iran, including resolution 1929. So you’ve got UN Security Council resolutions that apply to Iran and to North Korea, and so we follow these extremely closely, but I don’t have more to say on these specific allegations, which we are examining.

QUESTION: Okay. But if it’s a violation, and we’ll take – it’s quite apart from the North – the sanctions on North Korea, you are not negotiating with North Korea at the moment; you have, but you’re not now. You are negotiating with Iran. Iran is in violation of numerous UN Security Council resolutions dating back years and years and years – still – even though they’re complying with the JPOA —


QUESTION: — even though you say they’re complying with the JPOA. So why – is bringing Iran into compliance with all relevant Security Council – all the Security Council resolutions, is that not a goal of the negotiations here?

MR RATHKE: Well, the nuclear talks are focused on the nuclear-related issues.

QUESTION: So they can satisfy —

MR RATHKE: So there are other Security Council resolutions that also apply to Iran, and those continue and they will not be affected by it.

QUESTION: So as part of these negotiations, you could reach an agreement with the Iranians – could – without them addressing the nuclear cooperation with North Korea. Is that correct?

MR RATHKE: Well, again —

QUESTION: Allegations of nuclear cooperation.

MR RATHKE: Again, we are focused on shutting down the pathways to a nuclear weapon. I’m not going to get into the details or to preview how exactly we address these in the negotiating room.

Lee (AP): Why didn’t you raise the allegations in the negotiating room since one means to ascertain whether or not the Iranians have any or have had any nuclear cooperation with the North Koreans would be to ask them?

MR RATHKE: Well, I’m not ruling it in or out. I’m just saying I’m not going to prejudge what 

LEE (AP) : But why would you – why wouldn’t you? How could you not raise it? I mean, if you’re trying to figure out if they’re doing it, how do you not ask them?

MR RATHKE: Well, again, we have a variety of ways of trying to verify allegations, especially serious ones. So I don’t have more to say on this than that.


QUESTION: Can I just – it’s my understanding – and I just want to make sure that this is still correct or that it is correct —

MR RATHKE: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: — that the United States – this Administration, previous administrations, have expressed concern and have talked about intelligence suggesting that there is cooperation between Iran and North Korea on ballistic missiles. And the – although you are aware of reports like this one that came out overnight about nuclear cooperation, there isn’t any evidence so far. You haven’t seen any sign that these allegations, while serious, are actually true. Is it still correct that the Administration believes that there is ballistic missile cooperation, but not necessarily nuclear cooperation, between the two?

MR RATHKE: I don’t really have more to say than we have said. We’ve – there’s an international framework of Security Council resolutions dealing with both countries. We take any allegations of cooperation seriously.

QUESTION: And then just tangentially, there is a report – this doesn’t have to do with Iran – but about significantly increased activity at a North Korean missile – rocket launching site. Have you seen this? Do you know anything about it?

MR RATHKE: I haven’t seen that. I’m not familiar with that one.

QUESTION: Stay on North Korea?

Tehran Destablizes; Gets Sanctions Relief & Nuclear Threshold Status

27 de mayo 15B/C of Qasem Soleimani: Shiite militias kill Sunnis, bully #CampLiberty Subvert Yemen & Saudi @ALArabiya_Eng @NCRIUS

Gen. Qasem Soleimani Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force has facilitated killing of Sunni civilians in Iraq by radical Shiite militias that also bully Iranian dissidents at Camp Liberty, Iraq; armed troops that destabilize Yemen and threaten Saudi Arabia; and helped Assad remain in power in Syria, which set the context for gains there by the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), aka Islamic State.

According to 21 May 2015 congressional testimony by Dr. Fred Kagan, “…Shia militia forces are part of the Iranian military de facto. The Badr Corps, run by Hadi al-Amiri, reports to Qassem Sulemani, the commander of the Quds Force. “Kata’ib Hezbollah [is] run by Abu Mahdi al Muhandis, reports to Qassem Sulemani, commander of the Quds Force.” Because the Iranian regime is part of such problems in Iraq, it should not be a part of solutions.

The takeover of Ramadi accelerates the appeal of ISIS to Sunni Iraqis who had been fence-sitters; tribal leaders are especially vulnerable to defecting to ISIS as its momentum increases. During 2014, local Iraqi Sunni grievances against the Shiite-led government in Baghdad and ISIS controlled more than half of the territory around Ramadi; by springtime of 2015, it controlled even a greater share of Ramadi.

Regional allies like Saudi Arabia may be less willing to act in the coalition against ISIS and may be more inclined to overlook Saudis who assist the Islamic State. Research indicates that Washington needs to listen and hear Saudi Arabia and Egypt, as ISIS makes gains in Yemen and in the Sinai Desert. Instead the Obama administration is so strongly inclined to obtain some sort of a nuclear deal with Iran that Washington is willing to ignore Tehran’s efforts to destabilize the region.

Regarding the Lausanne framework deal, on one hand, regional allies are especially concerned that the Iranian regime will receive sanctions relief upfront and such reprieve will be difficult to snapback.

On the other hand, the framework institutionalizes Iran as a threshold nuclear power legitimately able to develop nuclear weapons whenever it decides. In this respect, the framework recognizes the Iranian regime’s assumed right to enrich uranium on its own soil, contrary to a half of dozen UN Security Council resolutions that denied Tehran this claim.

The National Council of Resistance of Iran President-Elect to Testify Before Congress

ABRIL 28- 15Raymond Tanter – National Council of Resistance of Iran President-Elect 2 testify Before Congress.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. –First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, December 15, 1791.

Congress intended the First Amendment to permit a wide range of opinions and views and produce a free exchange of ideas even if they are at odds with tradition. According to political myth, Otto von Bismarck said, “If you like laws and sausages, you should never watch either one being made.” Sausage-making, however, is an authoritarian process. Testimonies from multiple witnesses are an effective way to democratize the legislative process.

All-Source Threat Assessment

For threat assessment to begin with the answer rather than to hear multiple witnesses is to put the cart before the horse. To say that the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, aka ISIS) defines the threat prejudges the outcome in favor of an orthodoxy that may actually play into the hands of this terrorist group. Sensational videos of hostage beheadings leaked to the media become the breaking news of the day and may inadvertently aid recruitment for ISIS.

The House Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade is to hold a hearing entitled, “ISIS: Defining the Enemy,” April 29, 2015. The subtitle opens the door to all-source threat assessment. The intelligence community uses information from discounted and unorthodox sources as leads to compare with official estimates; likewise, Congress welcomes information from a variety of sources, including dissident testimony as leads in formulating legislation.

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Iran’s Breakout and Sneakout Into the Nuclear Sunset

march 11Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the U.S. Congress, March 3, 2015:

“My friends, for over a year, we’ve been told that no deal is better than a bad deal. Well, this is a bad deal. It’s a very bad deal…. Because Iran’s nuclear program would be left largely intact, Iran’s break-out time would be very short — about a year by U.S. assessment, even shorter by Israel’s … a … better deal [is one] that doesn’t leave Iran with a vast nuclear infrastructure….”

Senior U.S. official press briefing, March 8, 2015:

“We are not talking about a 10-year agreement — but about several phases that will continue indefinitely to know that Iran’s program is peaceful.”

These quotes pinpoint a triangle of issues: “breakout,” or the months needed for inspectors to detect Iran’s race for the bomb; “sneakout,” or Tehran’s secret enrichment capabilities — a word that implies little-to-no breakout time; and a “sunset clause,” years after which Iran would be free to chart its own nuclear course and imports/exports free of restraints.


The main narrative emerging from the breakout debate is a dispute between President Barack Obama and Netanyahu, over his allegation that Obama is willing to accept a breakout time of only six months, or not even a year.

The day after the speech, the Wall Street Journal published a piece titled “Iran Talks Closer on One-Year Nuclear ‘Breakout’ Demand.” The article reported that Iran and six major powers are nearing an understanding about a final nuclear deal. “It must be structured around the U.S. demand that Tehran stay at least a year away from amassing enough fuel for a nuclear weapon,” the Journal reported. Robert Satloff, executive director of the Washington Institute of Near East Policy also focused on what he suggests is an overlooked sentence of the speech — its opening. “The key sentence [of the speech] was this: ‘Because Iran’s nuclear program would be left largely intact, Iran’s breakout time would be very short — about a year by U.S. assessment, even shorter by Israel’s,’” Satloff wrote.

Netanyahu’s rhetoric suggested that Israeli intelligence doubts Washington’s assessment. How could the United States be sure its estimate of warning time will remain intact in year five or year 10 of an agreement? To ask the question is to answer it. No intelligence is certain.

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