Kerry’s Iran Deal Destroys Power of Congress, Stalls Business

If John Kerry was still in the Senate, would he have accepted or tolerated this kind of action? Further, what if any government employee or diplomat would hold hostage an entire body of government?

Obama Admin: Iran Deal Limits New Congressional Action on Iran

The recently inked nuclear accord with Iran restricts the United States’ ability to impose new sanctions on the Islamic Republic in response to terror activities, human rights abuses, and ballistic missile development, according to a document provided to Congress by the Obama administration and obtained exclusively by the Washington Free Beacon.

Secretary of State John Kerry writes in the document that although the nuclear accord theoretically allows Congress to impose new non-nuclear sanctions, American lawmakers will be restricted from enacting legislation that Iran could use as an excuse for walking away from the deal, according to the document, which was provided as an on-the-record response to a series of questions from Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.).

Experts who spoke to the Free Beacon raised alarms about the Obama administration’s response, which they claim would give Iran a veto over congressional efforts to respond to Iranian human rights atrocities and global terror activities. Tehran, they say, would claim that such measures are an excuse for re-imposing nuclear sanctions slated to be lifted under the deal.

Iran claimed in a letter sent to the United Nations last July that it would treat any new sanctions efforts—including those not related to its nuclear program—as a violation of the deal, specifically if those sanctions targeted Iranian entities that had once been penalized for illicit nuclear activity.

Iran emphasized in the letter that it would enforce that interpretation “irrespective of whether such new sanctions are introduced on nuclear related or other grounds,” according to a copy of the letter published by Foreign Policy.

Kerry, in his recent letter to Rubio, admitted that the United States will have limited options in sanctioning Iran.

Congress will not have “free rein to simply re-impose tomorrow all of our nuclear-related sanctions under some other pretext,” Kerry wrote. “Iran would obviously see that as bad faith.”

“We do not have free rein to re-impose nuclear-related sanctions without a credible rationale,” Kerry said later in the document.

Insiders told the Free Beacon that the administration’s stance would likely prevent the United States from responding to Iranian aggression and human rights violations.

“You have to understand how crazy backwards this is,” a senior D.C.-based political strategist involved in the fight over Iran sanctions legislation told the Free Beacon. “If you’re an Iranian general who is just involved in terrorism, we may be able to sanction you for that.”

“But let’s say you’re an Iranian general who was involved in the nuclear program, and we designated you for that but now under the deal we’re delisting you,” the strategist said. “If you now switch to being an arch-terrorist, Congress can’t touch you because the Iranians will say we’re doing an end-run around the JCPOA.”

Kerry declined to support new congressional actions against Iran, stating that the administration would “remain vocal about human rights violations in Iran” and would only “continue to enforce existing human rights sanctions.”

The administration’s stance comes amid repeated promises to lawmakers that the administration would double down on the use of sanctions as a means to push back against Iranian non-nuclear aggression.


Corporate America stuck on the sidelines in Iran

TheHill: U.S. companies won’t be rushing in to do business in Iran, even once the terms of the landmark nuclear accord go into effect.

Lawmakers have been unable to kill the terms of the agreement on Capitol Hill, but lingering sanctions and the threat of new action will prevent the vast majority of American companies from setting up shop in Iran — even while their foreign competitors race in.

“If you’re a U.S. company, the day after implementation day is going to look a lot like the day before implementation day,” said Richard Nephew, who worked on Iran sanctions within the Obama administration and is now a program director at Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy.

“I’m really, really skeptical that any major U.S. companies are going to want to tread in that space until they are pretty sure that they’re not going to get bitten as a result of this.”

“It would be a big mistake,” agreed Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), one of the few Senate Democrats to oppose the deal, “because there’s going to be still a whole host of other sanctions that will still exist for Iran’s non-nuclear transgressions, and it is likely that we will see other sanctions come down the road.”

In fact, except for caviar, carpets and a few other specific areas, the U.S. economic relationship with Iran won’t change much at all.

The nuclear deal lifts sanctions on Iran’s oil and financial sectors in exchange for limits on its ability to build a nuclear bomb.

The vast majority of U.S. sanctions, however, will only be lifted on foreign companies — not American firms.

“We are not removing our trade embargo on Iran,” a senior administration official said in a recent briefing with reporters. “U.S. persons and banks will still be generally prohibited from all dealings with Iranian companies, including investing in Iran [and] facilitating cleared country trade with Iran.”

However, there are a few exceptions.

Once regulators certify that Iran has taken a number of steps to shut down its nuclear program — which won’t happen for a few months — some industries will have a small amount of flexibility.

The most notable is civilian aircraft materials, of which Iran is in desperate need.

 The U.S., in return, will allow imports of Iranian carpets and foodstuffs including caviar and pistachios. Those shipments serve a symbolic purpose but aren’t likely to have a transformational effect on the Iranian economy, analysts said.

Some foreign subsidiaries of U.S. companies can also begin doing business in Iran. The Obama administration has yet to signify exactly what types of activities might be allowed, though, so it remains to be seen how overseas subsidiaries will respond.

In any case, corporate America doesn’t appear to be chomping at the bit to rush in to Iran, which may be in part due to the threat of new sanctions from Congress.

Opponents of the Iranian nuclear deal on Capitol Hill have so far failed in their bid to block it and are now turning to other avenues to undermine the agreement.

Meanwhile, as GOP presidential candidates are quick to remind people, the terms of the deal could be abandoned with the stroke of a pen from the next resident of the White House.

Those comments might cause

businesses to be wary of investing heavily in a legal opening that could close in just 16 months.

Europeans, meanwhile, have a different story to tell.

While many American firms will be on the outside looking in at Iran, the deal will lift most United Nations and European Union sanctions on Iran, which could open the floodgates for foreign firms.

“The bottom line is U.S. companies and U.S. persons will be more constrained, because we will have what is essentially a unilateral, U.S.-only embargo,” said William McGlone, a partner at the Latham & Watkins law firm who specializes in export controls and sanctions.

Some jostling has already begun.

“There are huge trade delegations over there,” said Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who leads the Senate Armed Services Committee and is strongly opposed to the deal.

“There’s not an empty hotel room in Tehran.”

The main target of that foreign activity is likely to be energy, though the degree to which American firms get in on the game remains a question mark.

Federal analysts say the country has up to 30 million barrels of oil in storage and could grow its production by up to  700,000 barrels a day once sanctions are lifted.

Iran’s oil minister said in May that “we will witness involvement” of American firms once that happens, but even companies bullish on the prospects aren’t moving quickly to confirm their involvement.

Royal Dutch Shell told The Hill in May that the company is “interested in exploring the role Shell can play in developing Iran’s energy potential,” but a spokesman Wednesday said only that that position still stands.

Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said he doesn’t expect many U.S. companies to join the parade to Iran, citing uncertainty about the stability of the country’s legal system and its lax environmental regulations.

But other countries, Cassidy predicted, are ready to move in when they can.

“The Chinese are going to be the ones who benefit the most in terms of trade, and then the Russians and then the Germans,” he said. “I don’t think the American companies would be anywhere close to it.”

“This is an incredible deal — if you’re in another country, starting with Iran.”

Every Step Towards is a Step Away From Tel Aviv

One family versus America, her allies, Israel.

The Shady Family Behind America’s Iran Lobby

Daily Beast: How one enterprising Iranian expat family and its allies successfully pushed for U.S.-Iran rapprochement—and now stands to make a fortune from sanctions relief.
When the world’s major powers struck a deal over Iran’s nuclear program in Vienna in July, it represented a victory not just for the Islamic Republic, which has now been granted international legitimacy as a nuclear threshold state, but also for a small but increasingly influential lobby in America, one which has long sought rapprochement between Washington and Tehran and now seeks to leverage a successfully concluded nuclear deal as a means to that end.

This Iran lobby, publicly represented by the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), has become a staunch institutional ally of the White House selling the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, as the nuclear deal is known. But while NIAC has done the heavy-lifting—the ad-buying, the leafleting, and Congressional meet-and-greets, all designed to sell lawmakers on the Iran deal—its political efforts also underwrite the economic interests of one very well connected but low-profile Iranian family, the Namazis, who played a key role as intellectual architects of NIAC.

Little known to the American press, the Namazis have rarely acted as spokespersons for their own cause. In fact, attempts to reach various members of the family for comment on this story were met with increasing levels of hostility and threats of legal action. Yet in many ways, the Namazi clan is the perfect embodiment of Iranian power politics, at least as it has played out among the Iranian diaspora. Those close to the Namazis say that they are savvy financial operators rather than ideologues, eager to do business with the West and enjoy all of its political freedoms and perquisites, and yet ever mindful that they’re straddling the delicate fault-line between cashing in with a theocratic dictatorship and being frozen out entirely. They have stayed on the right side of international law if not always on the right side of prevailing political interests in the Islamic Republic.

Nor did they begin their rise to prominence as supporters of the Islamic Revolution. Mohammad Bagher Namazi, also known as Baquer Namazi, is the patriarch of the family and formerly the governor under the Shah of the oil-rich Iranian province of Khuzestan. Despite his relationship with the ancien régime, Baquer Namazi was not persecuted by the Khomeinists after they seized power in 1979, and he and his family were allowed to emigrate in 1983 to the United States. There he raised two well-educated and Americanized sons, Babak and Siamak, while his niece, Pari Namazi, married Bijan Khajehpour, another Iranian expatriate.

The 1980s were the years of the fiery-eyed Ayatollah Khomeini and Iran’s ferocious war with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. Iranian-backed terrorism in Lebanon included the bombing of the U.S. embassy and the Marine barracks there, while Iranian “hit teams” hunted down and murdered opponents of the regime in exile. Iran’s Hezbollah clients kidnapped Europeans and Americans, and in the Irangate scandal the Reagan administration was exposed trading weapons systems for hostages. Afterward it effectively went to war against Iran on the waters of the Gulf, and in the process blew an Iranian civilian airliner out of the sky. There seemed no possibility of improved relations between Washington and the theocracy in Tehran. But after the Iran-Iraq war ended in 1988 and Khomeini died in 1989, new possibilities for rapprochement—and huge deals for international companies—started to emerge.


Doing serious business in Iran has always required some measure of political protection. The Islamic Republic is a web of rival economic interests. Broadly speaking, the three largest are those tied through various semi-clandestine fronts to  Khomeini’s successor as “supreme leader,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei; those linked to the regime’s praetorian Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC); and those associated with Iran’s president, who may hold the most conspicuous position in the country’s political life, but whose official powers are limited. Typically, to get things moving in the mire of Iran’s notorious bureaucracy, businesses have to have connections in one or more of these groups.

From 1989 to 1997, the president of Iran was Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, known as “the Shark,” an Iranian reference to a beardless man. He was also famous for getting rid of his rivals and political competitors one by one, like a great white shark. In addition, Rafsanjani had a reputation for corruption and taking advantage of power.

In this environment of increased willingness to do business with the West, the stage was set for a return of the Namazis. In 1993, Pari Namazi and her husband Bijan Khajehpour founded a company in Tehran called Atieh Bahar Consulting (AB). It offered a range of legal and industrial services to foreign enterprises, most importantly the access it provided to the regime, and the advice it dispensed on how best to navigate the vagaries of the regime’s entrenched factions and competitive interests.

At the time, it looked like Iran might even be opening up to big American-based oil companies, then unencumbered by any sanctions regime on the Islamic Republic. But after an announcement in 1995 that Iran had given Conoco a contract to develop an offshore gas field, and an uproar in the U.S.  Congress, the Clinton administration imposed unilateral sanctions and barred U.S. companies from doing business there.

Eventually Siamak Namazi, who had worked from 1994 to 1996 at Iran’s Ministry of Housing and Urban Planning, also joined AB. So did his brother Babak, a lawyer. And the AB client list just kept growing. Plenty of companies based outside the U.S. were more than happy to do business in Iran once they had the right connections. As Siamak eventually told Lebanon’s Daily Star newspaper, “If oil companies want to operate in the Iranian market they need to link up with a local partner, and this is where we step in and help them to find the right partner.”

With the surprise election of the “reformist” presidential candidate Mohammad Khatami in 1997, political and economic enthusiasm for better Iranian relations with the West grew dramatically. Meanwhile the “pragmatist” Rafsanjani took other powerful positions in the regime. In those optimistic times, AB’s non-American clients—free from any sanctions regime—included the German engineering giant Siemens; major oil companies BP, Statoil, and Shell; car companies Toyota, BMW, Daimler, Chrysler, and Honda; telecom giants MTN, Nokia, Alcatel; and international banks such as HSBC.

But the political winds were shifting. A nuclear cloud darkened the horizon, and the United States, slowly but surely, found ways to broaden the sanctions against Iran, forcing many international companies to dial back on their investments there or pull out altogether.

The Namazis, of course, had every reason to want to bring them back.


Atieh Bahar Consultancy had aligned itself with Rafsanjani’s faction early on by forging an especially close relationship with Rafsanjani’s influential son, Mehdi.

From 1993 to 2005, Mehdi Hashemi was employed at the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC), the state-owned entity that controls almost all oil and gas production in a country that has the world’s largest gas reserves and third-largest oil reserves.

But Mehdi Hashemi brought some serious problems to the relationship. In 2004, Norway’s Statoil was caught paying bribes to a prominent Iranian official using the company Horton Investment, an entity run by a close Mehdi Hashemi confidant as intermediary. Hashemi would later be imprisoned for his complicity in the bribery, along with two other charges, and ordered to pay a total of $10.4 million; $5.2 million of the bribe money, plus an additional $5.2 million in fines. Abbas Yazdanpanah Yazdi, meanwhile, was allegedly kidnapped in the UAE in 2013 and has since “disappeared.”

The scandal came just as the elder Rafsanjani was plotting a presidential comeback in the 2005 elections, and it gave substance to the rumors of corruption that always swirled around him and his son. (Mehdi Hashemi denied the Statoil bribery allegation and said it was designed to hurt his father’s reputation.) He managed to make it into the second and final round, but finally lost to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who staked out a position as a “clean” populist who would give money to the poor and who didn’t give a damn about foreign business interests.

After Ahmadinejad came into office, the nuclear cloud grew much darker.

In 2003, the United States had led the invasion and occupation of neighboring Iraq, eliminating Iran’s old enemy Saddam Hussein in order to be sure that he had no weapons of mass destruction. And, as it turned out, by then he did not. A few months earlier in 2002, however, Israeli intelligence turned up evidence that Iran, a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, had developed a secret uranium enrichment operation at a site called Natanz. (The first public airing of this intelligence came from a militant Iranian dissident group that had been nurtured by Saddam Hussein.)

This did not distract from the march to war with Iraq, but a few months later Iran was declared in material breach of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), and, under threat of heightened sanctions, a process of negotiations began between Iran and the European Union to limit the nascent enrichment program. At the time Iran had only 160 of the centrifuges needed to enrich uranium, and thousands would be required to get it to the point where it could produce fissile material for a bomb. U.S. intelligence estimates eventually concluded “with high confidence” that the Iranians also had a secret nuclear weapons program, in addition to enrichment, but shut it down in the fall of 2003.

When Ahmadinejad took over in 2005, he ditched all pretense of willingness to compromise over Iran’s “peaceful” nuclear program, an intransigence that led Western countries to tighten sanctions, making foreign investment ever more difficult. And what was worse for AB and the Namazis, Ahmadinejad went after his political rivals, particularly the Rafsanjani faction, with a vengeance. Mehdi Hashemi, naturally, was a prominent target. Ahmadinejad barred him from conducting any business in relation to Iran’s oil and gas sector. Ten years later, the courts actually sentenced him to a collective 25 years—and 50 lashes—in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison for all three charges against him including the Statoil corruption case. In reality, he will only serve 10 years.

AB needed to shore up some new alliances, and bide its time. Co-founder Bijan Khajehpour, worked for a leading Iranian politician named Hassan Rouhani who had served under the Khatami government as Iran’s nuclear negotiator. Rouhani also was the president of a think tank called the Center for Strategic Research (CSR). But relations with Iran in the middle of the last decade were almost as bleak as they had been after the 1979 hostage crisis and the grim terror and counter-terror campaigns of the 1980s.

By 2006, Iran, was in effect at war with the U.S. in Iraq. The Revolutionary Guards’ expeditionary Quds Force led by Qasem Soleimani had been training, financing, and arming Shia militias killing U.S. soldiers.

Moreover, the West was growing more alarmed about Iran’s nuclear program, which it seemed powerless to stop. Ahmadinejad had declared the resumption of uranium enrichment “irreversible” just as the country’s nuclear scientists had mastered the fuel cycle. He’d appointed conservative Ali Larijani as chief negotiator with the European Union (before Iran withdrew from talks altogether), and he said he’d “wipe [his] nose” on international sanctions.

A war with Iran, most likely started by Israel with the United States drawn in, began to seem possible, then probable, and almost inevitable. The International Atomic Energy Agency referred Iran to the UN Security Council for action forcing it to curtail its nuclear activities.

Out of this dark morass, the Namazis struggled to keep alive hopes of rapprochement and trade, while avoiding a war at all costs. And by then they had in place the architecture for convincing a war-weary U.S. policy establishment that not only was avoiding a military confrontation with Iran possible, but the Islamic Republic was really just a friend America had yet to make.


In November 1999, when Khatami was still president and, Siamak Namazi got together with a Swedish-Iranian expat named Trita Parsi at a conference in Cyprus. The conference, titled, “Dialogue and Action Between the People of Iran and America,” was convened jointly by the Centre for World Dialogue, a Cypriot non-governmental organization, and by Hamyaran, an Iranian non-governmental resource center for other NGOs, which was chaired by Mohammad Bagher Namazi, the family patriarch. Namazi fils and Parsi there presented an influential white paper (PDF), “Iran-Americans: The bridge between two nations,” which called for three steps to ameliorate U.S.-Iranian relations in advance of reconciliation:

1. Hold “seminars in lobbying for Iranian-American youth and intern opportunities in Washington DC.”

2. Increase “awareness amongst Iranian-Americans and Americans about the effects of sanctions, both at home and in Iran.”

3. End “the taboo of working for a new approach on Iran”—i.e., end the then two-decade-old U.S. policy of containment.

Namazi and Parsi wrote that “the fear of coming across as a lackey of the Iranian regime is still prohibiting many Iranian Americans from fully engaging in the debate on the future of Iran-U.S. relations.” The way around this, they submitted, was to mobilize the Iranian-American community and enlist “Americans of non-Iranian background” to lessen the adversarial posture of both nations.

The white paper led to the creation two years later, in 2001, of NIAC, a Washington, D.C.-based organization which Parsi founded and currently heads. During the formative period preceding NIAC’s launch, Parsi had sought advice and guidance from numerous sources, including and especially Mohammad Bagher, as was disclosed in documents (PDF) obtained during a defamation law suit brought by NIAC and Parsi against one of their most outspoken critics.

Parsi was extremely well-placed to front the Iran lobby. He had obtained a doctorate at Johns Hopkins on a subject intimately tied to the lobby’s central thesis—the relationship between Israel and Iran and how the former hindered the latter’s acceptance in the U.S. He even studied under Francis Fukuyama, a onetime neoconservative policy intellectual who abandoned his ideological comrades when the Iraq war went south. Finally, Parsi had gained valuable political experience on the Hill by working for Republican Congressman Bob Ney, a connection he has not included in his curriculum vitae and official website. (Ney went to jail in 2007 for accepting bribes from mega-lobbyist Jack Abramoff’s Native American casino clients.)

While serving as president of NIAC, Parsi also wrote intelligence briefings as an “affiliate analyst in Washington, D.C.” for AB, focusing on such topics as whether or not the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) would revive its anti-Iran campaigning on the eve of the Iraq war, or on efforts by the Mujahideen-e Khalq (MeK), the militant Iranian opposition group that exposed Natanz in 2002 would get itself de-listed as a terrorist entity by the U.S. State Department. Parsi was paid for his work for the consultancy, as disclosed by an email sent from Bijan Khajehpour to him, dated Sept. 22, 2002, an employment that Parsi did not mention when fulsomely praising Khajehpour in the Huffington Post as an ideal Iranian businessman.

Although it has only 5,000 dues-paying members, a mere one percent of the estimated 470,000 Iranian-Americans, NIAC’s network of activists and event attendees is said to extend into the tens of thousands. In June of this year, as the Iran deal looked likely, NIAC inaugurated an official “lobbying” arm called NIAC Action registered with the Internal Revenue Service as a 501(c)(4) organization, but for years, internally, the group has described its activities (PDF) as lobbying. NIAC Action is explicitly meant to counter the influence of AIPAC, which has spent millions to block the Iran deal’s passage in Congress by securing a veto-proof bipartisan majority of senators opposed to it—an effort that now appears close to failure.

Since its founding, NIAC has also proved a useful finishing school for rapprochement-minded Iranian-Americans, many of whom have either come from positions in U.S. government or graduated into them. Its current research director, for instance, is Reza Marashi, an Iranian-American dual national, who worked for Atieh Bahar until 2006 when he landed a  job at the U.S. government’s Institute for National Strategic Studies at the National Defense University, which acts as a research center for the Pentagon. Marashi then went to work for the Office of Iranian Affairs at the U.S. State Department as a desk officer overseeing Iran democracy and human rights programs.

Marashi is very outspoken on social media against any critics of NIAC’s agenda. Along with the rest of his organization’s staff, he has accused Jewish opponents of the Iran deal of being dual loyalists. “Shame on Chuck Schumer for putting #Israel’s interests ahead of America’s interests,” he tweeted after the New York senator’s decision to come out as the senior-most Democrat against the deal.

Given the obvious connection between NIAC and the Namazi family, Marashi makes no mention of his job at AB in his biography on NIAC’s official website. Nor did he respond to The Daily Beast’s repeated requests for comment on this story.

Perhaps NIAC’s most accomplished alum is Sahar Nowrouzzadeh, who is now National Security Council Director for Iran in the Obama administration and therefore the top U.S. official for Iran policy, bringing together the various departments of government working on U.S. strategy toward the country. She is also, after the White House principals, one of the leading advisors to President Obama on Iran. No doubt owing to the sensitivity (and influence) of her government role, Nowrouzzadeh has maintained a low profile, but her work at NIAC is publicly available. She drafted one of the organization’s annual reports for 2002-2003 (PDF) and was referred to by Dokhi Fassihian, then executive director, as a “staff member” (DOC). The Obama administration insists that Nowrouzzadeh was only ever an intern with NIAC, and Nowrouzzadeh does not seem eager to play-up her affiliation with the group. According to her LinkedIn profile, she has worked at the State Department and the Department of Defense. The profile doesn’t mention NIAC at all.

Such inconspicuousness stands in notable contrast to how other Obama administration officials who emerged NIAC’s nemesis—the pro-Israel lobbying establishment—tend to invoke their past credentials as a means of establishing their diplomatic bona fides.

But then, Israel is a longtime and “sacrosanct” American ally, as Obama has stated. Iran, on the other hand, has been a pariah state where crowds are encouraged to chant “Death to America.”

On NIAC’s website, in its mailings and in media interviews, NIAC rarely criticizes the IRGC or the Quds Force, a U.S.-designated terrorist entity. Parsi characterizes the Iranian regime, of which the Quds Force is the main military enforcer, as a U.S. ally in the war against the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS.  But neither he nor NIAC has discussed the Quds Force’s military role in Syria where it plays a key role in targeting U.S.-backed rebels deemed the best bulwark against both Assad and the so-called Islamic State widely known as ISIS and, more broadly, organizing the savage defense of the Assad dynasty, for which several of the Quds Force’s personnel have been sanctioned by the U.S. government.

NIAC publicly opposes designating the IRGC as a whole as a terrorist entity because doing so would only conform to part of a pattern of failed sanctions, “further entrenching U.S.-Iran relations in a paradigm of enmity.”

Instead, campaigning against any U.S. sanctions on Iran has been the mainstay of NIAC’s endeavors, and this held even when the Obama administration thought sanctions the most effective way to bring the Iranians back to the negotiating table. NIAC has maintained (PDF) that sanctions have cost the U.S. economy billions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of job opportunities.

Parsi’s activism won him praise from the Iranian regime during the very dark days a decade ago. Former ambassador to the United Nations Javad Zarif, who is now the heavily spotlighted foreign minister, wrote to Parsi in 2006, “Your help is always welcome,” and, after catching part of a Parsi interview on the BBC the same year, Zarif called his performance “Great.”

In March 2006 (at the height of the covert Iranian war with the U.S. in Iraq), Parsi told a colleague not to worry about a trip to Tehran, “NIAC has a good name in Iran and your association with it will not harm you.” When the colleague was briefly questioned by the regime, then released, he reported back (PDF) to Parsi that he’d been told the reason he was let go was “that they knew NIAC had never done anything seriously bad against the Islamic Republic.”


In 2009, Sen. Mark Kirk called NIAC Iranian “Regime Sympathizers” (PDF), stating “they came to Capitol Hill urging members of Congress to cut off U.S. funding for democracy programs in Iran.” NIAC had sought to eliminate the Bush administration’s “Democracy Fund” for programs in Iran, which it saw as nothing more than a vehicle for attempted regime change. NIAC responded to Kirk by calling the $75 million fund a “brainchild” of the Bush administration’s “disastrous Middle East policy,” which aimed to finance Iranian NGOs seeking overthrow the government of Iran.

And NIAC does some name-calling of its own, calling organizations it doesn’t like (i.e., those too critical of the Islamic Republic) “neocon puppets,” and warmongers. Indeed, it has also tried to define the parameters of acceptable Iranian civil society groups (i.e., ones that never really undermined the regime) by partnership with Hamyaran, described by NIAC as an “NGO umbrella organization” (PDF). In reality, however, it was conceived as more of a governmental non-governmental organization and launched by those close to Iranian President Mohammad Khatami—its board member was Hossein Malek Afzali, a deputy minister in Khatami’s government). By NIAC’s own admission, the organizatiom (PDF) “operates independently, but with the implicit permission of the Iranian government.” (Emphasis added.) Hamyaran’s board of directors was also once chaired by Namazi paterfamilias Mohammed Bagher.

Hamyaran obtained support from the congressionally funded National Endowment for Democracy—as did NIAC, which received Endowment funding in 2002, 2005, and 2006 in the collective amount of close to $200,000. NIAC described Hamyaran to the Endowment in 2004 as its “main partner in Iran.” Perhaps unsurprisingly, among those civil society groups selected for NIAC and Hamyaran’s “Digital Film Production Workshop Report,” a training program for Iranian activists to learn how to use digital media, were those described as having been “contracted by the Iranian government” or “worked closely with the Iranian government.”

As for NIAC, Carl Gershman, the president of the National Endowment for Democracy, told The Daily Beast, “We’re not supporting NIAC now and we have nothing to do with them.”

“Back then there were people arguing, ‘Try to get into Iran’ and we thought this was a way forward,” Gershman said. “We weren’t aware when these grants were made that NIAC were presenting themselves as a lobby. We didn’t know that. Our effort was to work with emerging space in Iran. We were trying something that might be a way to help people on the inside. But that quickly became unworkable; the grant didn’t work. Then NIAC showed itself as a lobby organization, so we have nothing to do with them anymore. Not every grant works out the way you want it to.” Asked if that meant that NED regretted working with NIAC , Gershman answered: “Yes, I think that’s true.”

At the same time it was taking U.S. taxpayer money, NIAC wanted to end U.S. government support for NGOs which categorically opposed the Islamic Republic. In April 2007, NIAC held a strategy meeting with international human rights groups including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch (HRW). The HRW representative was himself a former NIAC board member, Hadi Ghaemi, who had (PDF) worked for NIAC in Iran, and then served HRW from 2004 to 2008. During the meeting, according to an email sent by Parsi afterward, Ghaemi “noted that certain groups being funded by the state dept [sic] are covers for regime change and that we need to be careful. Many groups misrepresent themselves as wanting to improve human rights and democracy in Iran.” Ghaemi  did not specify which groups. When The Daily Beast contacted Ghaemi via email, he replied that he could not confirm the meeting in question. He was unavailable for further comment after The Daily Beast showed him Parsi’s email asking if that refreshed his memory.


In 2008, NIAC made a strategic mistake, waging a not-so-quiet campaign against the Voice of America’s Persian service, a U.S. government-funded broadcast medium. Both NIAC and the Namazis were aggravated by the frequent appearances of Hassan Dai, an Arizona-based Iranian exile, who lambasted NIAC as a regime mouthpiece.

Siamak Namazi (PDF) called for Dai to be banned from VOA in February 2007. NIAC chief lobbyist Emily Blout petitioned (PDF) Congress in September 2007 for an “independent review” of VOA Persian. After Dai appeared again on VOA in 2009, Parsi (PDF) remarked that its hosting of a NIAC critic “won’t change until the VOA leadership changes.” He was right. Today the editor-in-chief of VOA Persian is Mohammad Manzarpour, a former employee of Atieh Bahar Consultancy.

But serious damage to NIAC’s reputation was done, and much of it was self-inflicted. In 2008, Parsi and NIAC had brought a defamation suit against Hassan Dai, alleging that he had made “numerous false and defamatory statements that characterize plaintiffs as agents of the Iranian government.” Parsi and NIAC lost the case in 2012, with the judge rejecting their self-portrayal as critics of Tehran. “That Parsi occasionally made statements reflecting a balanced, shared blame approach is not inconsistent with the idea that he was first and foremost an advocate for the regime,” U.S. District Court Judge John D. Bates (PDF) wrote in his judgment. “After all, any moderately intelligent agent for the Iranian regime would not want to be seen as unremittingly pro-regime, given the regime’s reputation in the United States.”

Nor did NIAC do itself any favors in during the trial and on appeal. Three circuit judges of the U.S. Court of Appeals found its behavior (PDF) “dilatory, dishonest, and intransigent” and accused it of engaging in a “disturbing pattern of delay and intransigence. Seemingly at every turn, NIAC and Parsi deferred producing relevant documents, withheld them, or denied their existence altogether. Even worse, the Appellants also misrepresented to the District Court that they did not possess key documents [Dai] sought. Most troublingly, they flouted multiple court orders… A court without the authority to sanction conduct that so plainly abuses the judicial process cannot function.”

Unsurprisingly, then, NIAC and Parsi lost their appeal and were ordered to pay $183,480.09 in monetary sanctions in February 2015.

“NIAC and Parsi filed the lawsuit to break me under the financial burdens and silence other critics but they totally failed,” Dai told The Daily Beast. “The lawsuit, which lasted nearly seven years, showed the deceptive character of an organization that lobbies in favor of the mullahs’ theocratic regime but represents itself as a defender of peace.”


The fortunes of the entire Namazi clan waned after 2009, when a popular uprising against Ahmadinejad’s fraudulent re-election was met with murder, mass arrests, and torture.

Bijan Khajehpour was imprisoned because of the struggle raging in the regime between the Supreme Leader and the IRGC on one side, and the Rafsanjani camp on the other. And while praising the Obama administration for not speaking up on behalf of those who resisted the stealing of the 2009 election, the so-called Green Movement, on the grounds that doing so would have only given the regime an excuse to murder and torture more people, Parsi rushed to the defense of his friend and former employer Khajehpour, “who neither participated in the protests nor had any involvement with the opposition” but was instead a “self-made man” and “top-notch consultant drawing the attention of multinational and local firms to investment opportunities in the country.”

In The Huffington Post Parsi wrote as an acquaintance or friend of Khajehpour, nowhere disclosing his past business relationship writing reports for Atieh Bahar Consulting.

Khajehpour subsequently was released from prison and he and his wife, Pari Namazi, moved to Vienna.

Siamak Namazi also faced harassment after the 2009 election and the subsequent unrest. He left Iran for the United Arab Emirates and is currently the head of Strategic Planning at the UAE-based Crescent Petroleum, an oil and gas company based in Abu Dhabi.

Business in Iran was drying up. Ahmadinejad may have held onto power after he broke the Green Movement, but his drive toward nuclear “self-sufficiency” raised so many alarms that the Obama administration was able to persuade the four other members of the UN Security Council to impose draconian sanctions on the regime. Hundreds of billions of dollars worth of assets were frozen, and international commerce ground toward a halt.

Then, in 2013, Khajehpour’s former employer Hassan Rouhani, the former nuclear negotiator, the Rafsanjani-style “pragmatist,” was elected Iran’s new president. The ever affable-seeming former UN ambassador, Javad Zarif, was appointed foreign minister. Suddenly the door looked like it was open wide to a new relationship with the West of just the sort the Iran Lobby had worked for so hard and for so long. Rouhani was avuncular, good-humored, and had made it his goal to open Iran for business, if only the nuclear issue could be dealt with.

By the time serious talks with Washington were opened, Ahmadinejad’s nuclear program had built almost 14,000 centrifuges, and Iran was within a year, by some estimates within months, of producing enough fissile material to build a bomb, at least in theory.

Although there was talk in Washington about compelling Iran to dismantle the whole program, there was never really any question of that, and the deal as finally signed merely buys time—pushing Iran’s possibility of producing a potential nuclear weapon back from months to as many as 15 years.

As these pieces fell into place in the age of Obama, Parsi and NIAC found themselves in the unlikely position of power brokers. One prominent faction of the Iranian regime—Rafsanjani’s—sees them as convenient conduits for disseminating a pro-Iranian line in U.S. politics, while the “hardline” Iranian security services have classified their activities as benign to the interests of the Islamic Republic.

The U.S. government, meanwhile, has adopted many of NIAC’s talking points. Both Parsi and Atieh International, one of the companies in the Atieh Group, were fixtures on the sidelines of the Geneva and Vienna negotiations between the P5+1 and Iran. In fact, Atieh International held a joint briefing with NIAC at the Marriott in Vienna on June 29 to discuss a most pressing topic—renewed economic possibilities for the West once a deal was inked. The speakers were Bijan Khajehpour and Trita Parsi.

The Namazis’ alignment with Rafsanjani and Rouhani can now pay off. Because they were attacked so often and sometimes so viciously by “hard liners”—the very Iranian officials the Obama White House claims constitutes the only Iranian opposition to the nuclear deal—the Namazis and NIAC, the think tank and lobby they helped create, have gained great renewed credibility in the West, even promoting the idea that they can liberalize what remains by and large a fanatical theocracy and a fiercely competitive kleptocracy. At the same time, they can present themselves in today’s Iran as the best go-betweens with, well, with the not-so-Great Satan, who loves to listen to their advice.

— Alex Shirazi is a pseudonym for a well-known Iranian dissident who requested that The Daily Beast keep his identity concealed for fear of what might happen to his family in Iran in retaliation for this article.





Obama’s Iran Deal Leads to 5 Year Israel War Plan

The New Multi-year Plan of the IDF and the Agreement with Iran
The New Multi-year Plan of the IDF and the Agreement with Iran
The new Israel Defense issue No. 28 is making its way to subscribers and
stores. A first peek: Amir Rapaport’s column from the new issue, analyzing
current and future events in the region and the defense establishment
Amir Rapaport | 9/09/2015

Pursuant to the agreement: the “nuclear” agreement signed between the P5+1
and Iran in July 2015 is an event of historic proportions that will affect
the Middle East for decades. The top-priority assignment of the Israeli
intelligence services after the signing of the agreement is to deliver proof
that the Iranians are fooling the entire world.

It is safe to assume that all of the surveillance satellites and all other
intelligence gathering resources will attempt to pick up every speck of dust
or any irregularity in the local power consumption that might betray the
Iranians’ continued journey toward the bomb. The Iranians are no fools,
however. They will not risk anything during the 60-day interval until the
agreement is endorsed by the US Congress, with or without a veto by
President Barack Obama, remaining very cautious until the sanctions
currently imposed on them have been lifted.

What will they do a few months from now? Well, that is a completely
different story. The situation will change radically. It will happen fast,
as even if formally the sanctions are to be lifted gradually, in effect, the
whole world is already racing to do business with the Iranians. The sanction
regime is disintegrating very fast. The Russians are already planning arms
sales to Iran on the scale of US$ 30 billion, including their
state-of-the-art S-300 missile defense system. The Americans hope to make
money, too: the USA will sell arms and aircraft on the scale of dozens of
billions of dollars to Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Emirates. It is reasonable
to expect that they will offer Israel an increase of their defense aid
package and a few new weapon systems as “compensation” for the arms reaching
the Arab countries and for the Iranian rearming.

Meanwhile, the ‘conventional’ arms race is just one result out of many
pursuant to the historic reconciliation agreement. A nuclear arms race is
expected to begin as well: Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Turkey will estimate that
Iran would reach an atomic bomb sooner or later, and seek their own “Sunni
Bomb” as a counterweight to Iran’s “Shi’ite Bomb”.

The recent historic development was received as no surprise in Israel. The
Israeli defense establishment and political echelon had estimated in advance
that President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry would strive for an
agreement with Iran at any cost, and that the Iranians, too, will make that
assumption, so they would have no real reason to back down from any of their
basic stands in the negotiations.

The declaration that Israel is not bound by the agreement could hint to the
fact that Israel may continue to operate against the Iranian nuclear
program, whether by means of an overt attack or by covert operations, as
Israel may deem appropriate. In fact, Israel does not have a practical
option of staging an attack in Iran without engaging in a confrontation with
the entire world. Such an attack is not currently on the agenda, at least
not without undisputable proof that the Iranians are actually fooling the
entire world and are pressing on with their military nuclear program.

Israel has positioned itself as the leader of the campaign against the
agreement. This blurs the fact that the Iranian bomb threatens not just us
but the entire Middle East, with implications even as far as the Balkans and
the Caucasus (even there, an Iranian nuclear superpower is conceived as a
major threat). Moreover, the Israeli-Arab conflict is currently marginal
compared to the Sunni-Shi’ite conflict and the confrontations within the
Sunni community between ISIS and everyone they regard as “infidels”. Under
these circumstances, Iran’s rearming and evolving into a nuclear threshold
country with an international license is far from being an Israeli-only

The “Gideon” plan: regardless or pursuant to the nuclear agreement, the IDF
is preparing to implement a new long-term plan for the five-year period
beginning in 2016, under the codename “Gideon”.

If the “Gideon” plan is actually implemented, it will be the first
multi-year plan the IDF implements since the conclusion of the “Tefen” plan
in 2011. None of the plans prepared during the tenure of Lt. Gen. Benny
Gantz as IDF Chief of Staff were actually implemented, first and foremost –
because of the reduced defense budgets allocated by the Israeli government
in 2013 and 2014. The shortage of funding led the IDF to halt training
activities in 2014, just before Operation Protective Edge. The government
had known about this well in advance and authorized this default.

The “Gideon” plan should implement quite a few of the lessons derived from
Operation Protective Edge and transfer the IDF, within five years, into an
era where Iran is already regarded as a nuclear state and the enemies
surrounding us are organizations with no uniforms or permanent bases, but
with hundreds of thousands of high-precision rockets aimed at Israeli
population centers and strategic objectives. The primary scenario for which
the IDF is preparing is a multiple-theater confrontation, and the working
assumption is that it would be required to pass another power test in the
form of a war within the next few years.

Iran will not only become a nuclear state sooner or later, but will evolve
into a regional empire that pumps massive funding into the organizations it
supports, including Hezbollah. On the bright side – Egypt, Jordan and the
Gulf States will improve their relations with Israel as the threats imposed
by Iran and ISIS intensify.

The truth is that IDF has been engaged in an effort to adapt to the wars of
the present and the future for some time: since 1985, the number of tanks
was reduced by 75%, the number of aircraft was reduced by 50% and the number
of UAVs – Unmanned Airborne Vehicles – increased by 400%. The number of
reservists was cut down by hundreds of thousands. Soon, Israel will take
delivery of the fifth Dolphin-class submarine built by German shipyards, and
in two years’ time, a sixth submarine will be delivered. In December 2016,
the first F-35 future fighters will arrive in Israel, and next year IDF will
begin the process of adopting the David’s Sling missile defense system which
complements the Iron Dome system. The development of the Arrow-3 missile
system is in high gear and massive efforts are under way in an attempt to
find a solution to the subterranean tunnels – the most complex operational
challenge encountered by IDF during Operation Protective Edge.

Generally, the IDF has evolved into a technological war machine based on a
state-of-the-art communication network capable of linking resources in the
air, at sea and on land in real time in order to engage targets that pop up
even for a few seconds before they disappear (or before they are destroyed).
The number of heavy ground platforms is decreasing and some of the ground
formations are becoming more agile (and are also employing unmanned
vehicles, among other things).

As far as manpower is concerned, the “Gideon” plan includes a 6% reduction
of staff elements and command centers, along with a set command ratio of one
to five – for example, one Lieutenant-Colonel officer for every five Major
officers, with the intention of reducing the number of officers in IDF staff
and command elements. Chief of Staff Eizenkot also plans to reduce various
layouts that are not a part of the core of IDF activities, like the IDF
Corps of Education, IDF Rabbinate, IDF Radio and other layouts.
Additionally, the various units of the Artillery Corps will be reorganized
and several battalions and divisional artillery groups will be demobilized.
In their place, long-range precision rocket units are being established. The
number of Major-General officers in the IDF will be reduced by four.

Chief of Staff Eizenkot did not elaborate on it during his briefings, but
the IDF Ground Arm will be assigned a higher priority after years of having
been neglected in favor of the strict precedence assigned to the IAF and
Intelligence Directorate. The Chief of Staff is also determined to set up a
cyber warfare command within two years. Initially, it seems that three
Brigadier-General officers will be assigned to handle this activity – one
will be responsible for defensive operations on behalf of the C4I
Directorate, another will be responsible for offensive operations on behalf
of Intelligence Unit 8200 and a third officer will coordinate the entire
activity under the Deputy Chief of Staff. When the cyber warfare command is
established, the C4I Directorate will be reduced and the cyber warfare
activity will be taken out of Unit 8200, but would still remain within the
Intelligence Directorate.

As far as the IDF is concerned, the plan is moving ahead from the planning
stage to the implementation stage, but in the summer of 2015 it is not yet
clear whether the budget required in order to implement it will be found.
The ball is in the government’s court.

Syria: while world attention has been drawn to Iran this summer, in Syria it
appears that the civil war that has been raging there for the past four
years is approaching the moment of decision.

Over the last few months, Assad has sustained massive losses in territory
and personnel. Similarly, Hezbollah, fighting alongside the forces of the
Assad regime against the various rebel groups, has also sustained heavy
losses, with the number of Hezbollah combatants killed in action totaling
1,300 (higher than their death toll in the Second Lebanon War). The forces
of ISIS are consolidating their hold in Syria, along with secular and more
moderate rebel forces, and the war is gradually leaking into the territory
of neighboring Lebanon. All of the above notwithstanding, Assad appears to
be determined not to relinquish his throne. Israel’s objective, at this
point, is to prevent the Syrian civil war from seeping into Israeli

The relocation to the south: the summer of 2015 marks a serious development
in the plans of IDF regarding the relocation to southern Israel. This major
project has begun to materialize with the inauguration of the training base
complex located to the south of Beersheba.

Despite the massive size of the new complex, the induction of this element
has been a marginal move compared to the moves that are still on the
agenda – the relocation of all of the technological units of the IDF C4I and
Intelligence Directorates to the Negev. The next stage in the plan will be
the issuance of a solicitation for the construction of a new C4I campus in
the south. This tender will be issued by the end of 2015. When the
relocation of all of the IDF units to the south has been completed, within
5-7 years, IDF will benefit from new technological infrastructures. As far
as the southern region is concerned, the IDF will constitute a primary
anchor in the creation of a common technological environment, along with
academia and Israeli as well as multinational high-tech industries.

IMI: the most significant development in the defense industry sector has
been the tender for the privatization of IMI. This process has been gaining
momentum and information rooms have been opened recently for the benefit of
the 10 groups that remained in the race for IMI’s acquisition.

The tender is expected to be decided by the end of this year. This process
will change the face of the Israeli defense industry, in preparation for
another significant move – the offering of a substantial percentage of the
shares of IAI to the public (IPO).

In part from the Jerusalem Post:

‘Sunset clause’

Yet, more than any single enforcement standard or cap included in the deal, Israel believes the Achilles’ heel of the proposed agreement is its definitive end date – the sunset clause.

“You’ve not dismantled the infrastructure, you’ve basically tried to put limits that you think are going to be monitored by inspectors and intelligence,” said the official, “and then after this period of time, Iran is basically free to do whatever it wants.”

The Obama administration also rejects this claim. By e-mail, the senior US administration official said that, “‘following successful implementation of the final step of the comprehensive solution for its duration, the Iranian nuclear program will be treated in the same manner as that of any non-nuclear weapon state party to the NPT – with an emphasis on non-nuclear weapon.”

“That has in no way changed,” the American official continued, quoting the interim Joint Plan of Action reached last year.

But the treatment of Iran as any other signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty –189 countries are members, including Iran – would allow Tehran to ultimately acquire “an industrial-sized capability,” the Israelis say. “The breakout times [to a nuclear weapon] will be effectively zero.”

Israel and world powers seek to maximize the amount of time they would have to identify non-compliance from a nuclear deal, should Iran choose to defy its tenets and build a bomb.

But in the deal under discussion in Vienna, Iran would be able to comply with international standards for a decade and, from Israel’s perspective, then walk, not sneak, into the nuclear club.

“You’ve not only created a deal that leaves Iran as a threshold nuclear power today, because they have the capability to break out quickly if they wanted to,” the Israeli official contended. “But you’ve also legitimized Iran as a military nuclear power in the future.”

From the moment this deal is clinched, Israel fears it will guarantee Iran as a military nuclear power. There will be no off ramp, because Iran’s reentry into the international community will be fixed, a fait accompli, by the very powers trying to contain it.

“The statement that says we’ve prevented them from having a nuclear weapon is not a true statement,” the Israeli official continued. “What you’ve said is, you’re going to put restrictions on Iran for a given number of years, after which there will be no restrictions and no sanctions. That’s the deal that’s on the table.”

Revisiting the use of force

Without an exit ramp, Israel insists its hands will not be tied by an agreement reached this week, this month or next, should it contain a clause that ultimately normalizes Iran’s home-grown enrichment program.

On the surface, its leadership dismisses fears that Israel will be punished or delegitimized if it disrupts an historic, international deal on the nuclear program with unilateral military action against its infrastructure.

By framing the deal as fundamentally flawed, regardless of its enforcement, Israel is telling the world that it will not wait to see whether inspectors do their jobs as ordered.

“Ten, fifteen years in the life of a politician is a long time,” the Israeli said, in a vague swipe against the political directors now scrambling in Vienna. “In the life of a nation, it’s nothing.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has threatened the use of force against Iran several times since 2009, even seeking authorization from his cabinet in 2011. Iran’s program has since grown in size and scope.

Sanctions Relief Summary by U.S. per Iran JPOA

The White House has never been concerned about an up or down vote by Congress to approve the Iran deal, rather the only concern is what Congress will do on the outside in regards to the sanctions on Iran. In the past week, Republicans and conservatives in Congress have been meeting to discuss all options to hurt the deal as it moves forward. One such option is to sue again Barack Obama on abuse of power over Congress using waiver authority on laws and standing sanctions on Iran and that discussion is taking place.

Sanctions Relief under the JCPOA  (Direct text transfer from page 17 on in detailed Congressional Report. For the full report, click here.

The easing of sanctions under the JCPOA is relatively consistent with the stipulations of the framework accord. Under the JCPOA, the overwhelming bulk of sanctions relief occurs at Implementation Day—the day when the IAEA certifies that Iran has completed those stipulated core nuclear requirements listed in Annex V of the JCPOA (primarily reducing the size and scope of its enrichment of uranium). According to the JCPOA, the following sanctions are to be eased:

On Implementation Day, many U.S., virtually all EU, and most U.N. sanctions are to be lifted or suspended that Iran has taken certain key nuclear-related steps that are U.N. Security Council Resolution 2231 of July 20 contains this provision.

The U.S. sanctions that are to be suspended are primarily those that sanction foreign entities and countries for conducting specified transactions with Iran (so-called “secondary sanctions”). U.S. sanctions that prohibit U.S. firms from conducting most transactions with Iran are not being suspended. However, the JCPOA does commit the United States to a slight modification in the U.S. “trade ban” with Iran (Executive Order 12959 of May 1995) to permit: licensing the sale to Iran of commercial aircraft, and the importation of Iranian luxury goods such as carpets, caviar, and some fruits and nuts.

The U.S. sanctions to be suspended are mostly those imposed since U.N. Security Council Resolution 1929 was enacted in June 2010.55 That resolution identified Iran’s energy sector as a potential contributor to Iran’s “proliferation-sensitive nuclear activities.”

Type of Sanctions to Be Removed or Suspended. The sanctions relief on Implementation Day includes lifting or suspension of U.S. sanctions on foreign firms involved in Iran’s:57 (1) energy sector, including those that penalize Iran’s exportation of oil and sanction foreign sales to Iran of gasoline and energy sector equipment, and which limit foreign investment in Iran’s energy sector; (2) U.S. sanctions on foreign banks that conduct transactions with Iranian banks; (3) U.S. sanctions on Iran’s auto sector and trading in the rial. The United States is to revoke the designations made under various Executive Orders of numerous specified Iranian economic entities and personalities (listed in Attachment III of Annex II of the JCPOA), including the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC), various Iranian banks, and many energy and shipping-related institutions. That step would enable foreign companies to resume transactions with those Iranian entities without risking being penalized by the United States.

U.S. Laws to Be Waived and Executive Orders to Terminated. The suspension of U.S. sanctions as required under the JCPOA will necessitate: exercising presidential authority to waive sanctions mandated by the core operative provisions of the Iran Sanctions Act (P.L. 104-172 as amended);58 Section 1245(d)(1) of the National Defense Authorization Act for FY2012 (P.L. 112-81); the Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act (P.L. 112-158); the Iran Freedom and Counter-Proliferation Act (Subtitle D of P.L. 112-239); and the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act of 2010 (CISADA, P.L. 111-195). The statutory basis for the sanctions would remain unchanged by the agreement. Implementing the U.S. commitment will also require terminating the provisions of the following Executive Orders: 13574, 13590, 13622, 13645, and Sections 5-7 and 15 of Executive Order 13628. For information on the exact provisions of the Executive Orders and the laws referenced above, see CRS Report RS20871, Iran Sanctions and CRS Report R43311, Iran: U.S. Economic Sanctions and the Authority to Lift Restrictions.

Request for Congress to Lift Sanctions Outright. The JCPOA requires the U.S. Administration, within eight years (“Transition Day”), to request that Congress lift virtually all of the sanctions that will be suspended under the JCPOA. The JCPOA requires all U.N. sanctions to terminate after 10 years of adoption of the JCPOA. Under the JCPOA, the eight year mark after JCPOA adoption is known as the Transition Day and the 10-year mark is known as the Termination Day.

EU Lifting of Sanctions on Implementation Day. The EU sanctions to be lifted include: (1) the EU ban on purchases of oil and gas from Iran; (2) the ban on Iran’s use of the SWIFT electronic payments system that enables Iran to move funds from abroad to its Central Bank or its commercial banks; and (3) the lifting of EU sanctions (assets freezes/visa bans) on entities listed in Annex II, Attachment 1. This attachment does not include one controversial personality –IRGC-Qods Force Commander Qasem Soleimani. EU nuclear-related sanctions on him are to remain until Transition Day, although he will remain sanctioned under EU decisions on Syria and on terrorism. U.S. sanctions on Soleimani will remain, including secondary sanctions on entities that deal with him.

U.S. Sanctions to Remain in Place. Other U.S. sanctions that are not required to be suspended in accordance with the JCPOA are mostly those sanctioning Iran’s support for terrorism, its human rights abuses, and worldwide arms and WMD-related technology to Iran. The specific Executive Orders and statutory provisions that will not be suspended include (1) E.O. 13224 sanctioning terrorism entities (not specific to Iran); (2) the Iran-Iraq Arms Non-Proliferation Act that sanctions foreign firms that sell arms and weapons of mass destruction-related technology to Iran; (3) the Iran-North Korea-Syria Non-Proliferation Act (INKSNA);59 and (4) the Executive Orders and the provisions of CISADA and the Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act that pertain to human rights or democratic change in Iran. Iran also will be remaining on the “terrorism list” and all sanctions triggered by that designation will remain in place, at least for now. The United States has not pledged in the JCPOA to remove or to reconsider Iran’s designation as a state sponsor of terrorism. That designation triggers numerous U.S. sanctions, including a ban on any U.S. foreign aid to Iran and on U.S. exportation to Iran of controlled goods and services, and a prohibition on U.S. support for international lending to Iran.

U.N. Sanctions on Arms Sales and Ballistic Missiles to Be Terminated After Several Years. One issue that arose during final negotiations on the JCPOA was the suspension of U.N. sanctions on Iran’s development of nuclear-capable ballistic missiles and on Iran’s importation or exportation of conventional weaponry. The April 2 framework accord indicated that these sanctions would remain in place in the JCPOA. However, as subsequently negotiated, the ban on Iran’s development of nuclear-capable ballistic missiles is to be lifted within eight years of the JCPOA and the ban on conventional arms sales to Iran and on Iran’s exportation of arms are to be lifted within five years,60 as stipulated in Resolution 2231. However, as noted, U.S. sanctions on foreign entities that assist Iran with such programs will remain in place, as will specific U.N. Security Council Resolutions that prohibit weapons shipments to Lebanon and to Yemen.

Ban on Reimposing those Sanctions that are Lifted or Suspended. The JCPOA contains language requiring that the parties to the agreement not reimpose the sanctions that will be suspended, as long as Iran is complying. The agreement states that if U.S. sanctions are reimposed (other than through reimposition on the grounds of Iranian noncompliance), Iran would not be bound by its nuclear commitments. An Iranian letter to the President of the U.N. Security Council, dated July 20, interprets the provision to bar the reimposition of those sanctions that are being suspended under “non-nuclear” justifications such as Iranian support for terrorism or armed factions in the Middle East, or for human rights violations. Iran interprets reimposition to be those sanctions that target the same sectors of Iran’s economy on which sanctions are being lifted or suspended (energy, financial, auto, shipping). However, there does not appear to be a prohibition on enacting further U.S. sanctions (other than those being suspended under the JCPOA) on arms sales to Iran, human rights violations and Iranian support for terrorism or armed factions in the region .

Automatic Reimposition of Sanctions (“Snap-Back”)

The JCPOA (paragraph 36 and 37) contains a mechanism for the “snap back” of U.N. sanctions if Iran does not satisfactorily resolve a compliance dispute. According to the JCPOA, the United States (or any veto-wielding member of the U.N. Security Council) would be able to block a U.N. Security Council resolution that would continue the lifting of U.N. sanctions despite Iran’s refusal to resolve the dispute. In that case, “… the provisions of the old U.N. Security Council resolutions would be reimposed, unless the U.N. Security Council decides otherwise.” These provisions are included in U.N. Security Council Resolution 2231.61 The total time for this “dispute resolution” mechanism –between the time of the complaint of Iranian non-compliance and the reimposition of U.N. sanctions, is 65 days.

A related question is whether the effect of sanctions currently realized could ever be reconstituted if U.N. sanctions are lifted but U.S. sanctions are reimposed. The effect of all sanctions has depended on the substantial degree of international compliance and cooperation with the sanctions regime that has taken place since 2010. A wide range of countries depend on energy and other trade with Iran and might be reluctant to resume cooperating with reimposed U.S. sanctions unless Iran commits egregious violations of its commitments. Countries that do not wish to reimpose their sanctions on Iran could argue that, because U.N. Security Council sanctions are lifted, they are no longer bound to cooperate with U.S. sanctions.

Implications for Iran of the JCPOA Sanctions Relief

The suspension of sanctions on Implementation Day would likely have significant implications for Iran’s economy, including the following:

Crude Oil Exports. Iran will be able to export crude oil without restriction. Iranian energy officials estimate that Iran could double its oil exports from the 1.1 mbd level of the JPA period within about six months. Significant quantities of Iranian oil will likely hit the market immediately after sanctions suspension because Iran reportedly has about 30 million -50 million barrels of oil stored, and therefore available for immediate release onto the market.

Access to Restricted Foreign Exchange Reserves. Upon the suspension or lifting of sanctions on Implementation Day, Iran will have access to about $120 billion in foreign exchange assets currency that it has been unable to repatriate to its Central Bank. However, according to Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew in testimony on the JCPOA in late July, about $65 billion of those funds are obligated. About $20 billion is owed to China for infrastructure projects performed in Iran by Chinese firms. About $45 billion is owed to cover loans to Iranian energy companies and other Iranian firms. The Treasury Department says that only about $56 billion would be available for Iran to use at its discretion, after these obligations are paid. The funds consist of some assets deposited before restrictions on the movement of the funds was imposed in February 2013 (Iran Threat Reduction Act), but the bulk of the assets are oil sales proceeds deposited since that restriction went into effect.

 According to the Treasury Department, Iran’s foreign exchange reserves are held by many banks around the world, and particularly in those of Iran’s five remain oil customers: China, India, South Korea, Japan, and Turkey.62 Some funds might be held in EU banks as well. Other banks said to hold Iranian foreign exchange funds are, according to a determination of waiver provided to Congress on June 17, 2015, in Oman, Switzerland, and South Africa.63 And, banks in the United Arab Emirates, a major trading partner of Iran, might hold some of the monies as well.

Post-Sanctions Economic Growth. Economists estimate that Iran’s economy could grow as much as 7% after sanctions are suspended.64 Iran’s energy sector, automotive production sector, and other industrial sectors are likely to rebound strongly as importation of parts becomes easier to finance. Some assert that Iran will use the additional economic resources generated by the deal to enhance its regional position. The Administration acknowledges Iran might steer some extra funding to regional allies but argues that Iran will use the great bulk of the additional funds to invest in its domestic economy which has been starved by sanctions for several years.

Commercial Aircraft Sales. Iran is likely to seek to purchase significant quantities of commercial aircraft because of the advanced age of most of the aircraft used by its airlines. The deal commits the United States to license commercial aircraft sales to Iran, including U.S.-made aircraft. If such sales are consummated, U.S.-Iran trade in dollars, which has been highly limited by sanctions for many years, could expand significantly. The importation to the United State of U.S. luxury goods is likely not to boost bilateral trade significantly because of the low-volume and low dollar-figure nature of these imports by U.S. buyers.



Iran Does Not Need to Cheat, Lying Works

TEHRAN, Sep. 12 (MNA) – AEOI Deputy Zarean says no inspections of Iran’s military sites are on the agenda of a Tuesday visit by inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to Iran. Deputy of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Ali Asghar Zarean said on Saturday that IAEA inspectors are scheduled to arrive in Tehran on Tuesday for talks. 

He added that during this round of negotiations, inspections of Iran’s military sites are not on the agency’s agenda. The Iranian nuclear official maintained that the visit is within the framework of the JCPOA and the sides will hold talks for further coordination and practical measures in the future. On July 14, Iran and the IAEA signed a road map for “the clarification of past and present issues” regarding Iran’s nuclear program in the Austrian capital Vienna. The deal came on the same day Iran and the 5+1 group of countries reached an agreement over Tehran’s nuclear program.



And the timing of this announcement is beyond suspicious:

FNC: Iran has reportedly found an unexpectedly high reserve of uranium, following assessments that the country is running low on the nuclear raw material and just days after President Obama essentially secured an international nuclear deal with the country’s leaders.

The discovery was reported first by Reuters and based on comments made by Iranian nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi to the state news agency IRNA.

“I cannot announce (the level of) Iran’s uranium mine reserves,” Salehi was quoted as saying. “The important thing is that before aerial prospecting for uranium ores we were not too optimistic, but the new discoveries have made us confident about our reserves.”

The international deal with Iran, largely brokered by the Obama administration, slows the country’s nuclear development for nearly a decade in exchange for the lifting of billions of dollars worth of crippling economic sanctions.

World leaders think Iran is trying to develop a nuclear weapon, despite Tehran’s denial.

However, Iran under the deal will still be able to pursue a nuclear-development program, for which the uranium could be used.

The remarks by Salehi, head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, could not be found Saturday morning on the IRNA website. But another story had him as saying the deal — reached in July and officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action — will not slow the pace of Iran’s nuclear program.

“The official said the restrictions which the JCPOA entails are by no means the ones which would restrict Iran in its nuclear activities,” reads one line in the story.

Several other news-gathering agencies have either picked up the Reuters’ story or cited it in their own version.

That Obama would win congressional approval of the deal became apparent in recent weeks, but not without a fight from the GOP-controlled Congress and other critics including conservative groups and pro-Israel organizations.

However, the president worked all summer to garner support from Senate Democrat, who on Thursday block chamber Republicans from disapproving of the deal and from forcing Obama to resort to a presidential veto to win approval for what will likely be considered his biggest foreign policy achievement.

Salehi reportedly said uranium exploration had covered almost two-thirds of Iran and would be complete in the next four years.

Uranium can be used for energy production and scientific purposes but is also a key ingredient in nuclear weapons.

Some Western analysts have previously said that Iran was close to exhausting its supply of yellowcake — or raw uranium — and that mining it domestically was not cost-efficient, according to Reuters.

A report published in 2013 by U.S. think-tanks Carnegie Endowment and the Federation of American Scientists said the scarcity and low quality of Iran’s uranium resources compelled it “to rely on external sources of natural and processed uranium,” the wire service also reported.

Iran has repeatedly denied overseas media reports that it has tried to import uranium from countries like Kazakhstan and Zimbabwe.