Last Sunday in Paris the “most transparent Administration we have ever seen” signed on to a six-month nuclear agreement with Iran to officially begin Monday, January 20. The EU nations as well as Russia have clearly announced their expectations to the world for new trade opportunities that will follow. Yet, the United States Government and Big Business, whose mouthpiece is the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, are silent.
You might say, “So what?” We ask, “Are we kept in the dark deliberately … or accidentally?”
Consider the following:
Fact #1 On November 25, 2013 the U.S. as part of the P5+1, which includes the EU, UK, France, Germany, Russia and China, met with Iran to sign what is known as the Joint Plan of Action (JPA). Within 24 hours it was revealed to the U.S. public that secret talks had taken place over a three-year period. The President and Secretary(s) of State meanwhile were using the convenient excuse when pressed by family members or media for updates on three detained hostages, “We don’t have direct communications with Iran.”
Fact #2 According to reporting by Laura Rozen (almonitor.com), Daniel Greenfield (frontpagemag.com) and others it is well documented that John Kerry, while still a U.S. Senator, personally headed up a secret mission to Iran meeting in Muscat, Oman. Oman is conveniently located just across the Gulf from Iran. The first secret session involving Kerry was on December 8, 2011 and then again in May, 2012, as U.S. Secretary of State. Both Kerry and VP Joe Biden later dispatched their aides to additional secret meetings to Oman, negotiating with upper level Iranian representatives each time.
The early fruits of these negotiations were the prisoner exchanges involving three (3) young American hikers accused of spying on the Kurdish borderlands and four (4) Iranian criminals who were convicted in U.S. Federal Courts. All four attempted to buy dual-use military or nuclear equipment banned for sale or export to Iran. Included was Mojtaba Atarodi (U.S. educated, arrested while visiting a brother in the U.S.) who is a high level nuclear scientist and professor in Tehran. Interestingly the hikers, all convicted as spies and serving terms, were released after ‘someone’ paid approximately $500,000 as ‘bail’ on behalf of each one prior to release. What else, if anything, America received for its good will and releasing the four criminals is still unknown.
Fact #3 When Kerry became Secretary of State, replacing Hillary Clinton, in early 2013, he continued the secret back-channels to see if Iran was interested in a) improved relations, which was one of Obama’s stated goals as a 2008 presidential candidate, and b) a means of easing trade sanctions in exchange for a cessation of the Iranian nuclear weapons program. The prospects of these talks received a considerable boost in both countries when ‘moderate’ Hassan Rouhani was elected in June. Prior to the official talks in Geneva in November, Kerry met with his counterpart Zarif in NY during the UN meetings and again in October in Oman.
Fact #4 It was made known, again after the deal was signed November 25, that in addition to the prisoner exchanges, the U.S. unilaterally began easing sanctions as a show of ‘good faith.’ This was done by Presidential waivers and executive orders. It appears the U.S. received nothing in return except for the possibility of multilateral face-to-face discussions on the nuclear program.
(Freeallthree.com as well as families and supporters of the three Americans who are hostages and pawns in Iran’s hands, complained vociferously following the November 25 deal when there was no news or mention of the three men. It is stubbornly maintained that this could have been an easy pre-condition to holding face-to-face talks. The U.S. Administration also stubbornly insists the talks were, and still are, about nuclear issues only.)
Fact #5 The secret talks continued and led to an eventual tentative agreement – all behind the scenes. Then came the annual United Nations session in September 23 in New York. Mr. Rouhani was the ‘toast of the town’ giving several interviews while flashing his famous smile. For days we were kept on the edge of our seats, asking: “Will Obama and Rouhani meet … talk … or have a well-choreographed ‘accidental’ hallway handshake?” None of the above. It was apparently too much, too soon for Mr. Rouhani!
Fact #6 Obama returned to Washington after his UN speech while Rouhani remained in NY. But it was announced the two had an ‘historic telephone call’ on September 27, 2013. We have a photo of the President on the phone in the Oval Office to prove it! The call lasted only 15 minutes with both Presidents offering their best wishes and their wish lists of issues that needed the others’ attention. Allegedly Mr. Obama raised the cases of the three Americans languishing in Iranian hands: Pastor Saeed Abedini, former Marine Amir Hekmati and former-retired FBI man Robert Levinson.
Fact #7 Naghmeh Abedini, wife of Pastor Saeed, managed to be within a few feet of Mr. Rouhani on September 23 because they were staying at the same hotel and crossed paths in the lobby. She managed to deliver a letter prepared on the off-chance she would see the Iranian President. She nervously spoke in what she describes as her ‘poor’ Farsi, because English is her native language, to a member of his detail passing by; he indicated he would give the President her letter.
Fact #8 On or about November 3, five weeks after Naghmeh’s letter and the two Presidents’ telephone conversation, Saeed Abedini was transferred without notice to an even worse prison within Iran. His Iranian family did not know he was transferred until they tried to visit him at the Evin prison in Tehran. The new prison is 90 minutes away and has a reputation as a place ‘where people go die.’ It is filled with Iran’s most violent criminals and murderers. Saeed, a Christian who converted from Islam, was sentenced to 8 years as a ‘threat to Iran’s national security.’ He was in Iran to establish a much-needed orphanage that had received governmental approval. The purpose of his visit was stated on his visa application.
Fact #9 The P5+1 after the UN meetings signaled that talks with Iran would take place in early November in Geneva. In early November all the top foreign ministers including John Kerry representing the U.S. would be present. News analysts said this would not happen unless there was already strong agreement in principle. However, the French objected at the first session, calling the proposal a ‘sucker’s deal’ and the meeting broke up. It was noted later that Iran was willing to sign at that time.
Fact #10 Undeterred, for two weeks Kerry and Wendy Sherman and others from the U.S. State Department were dispatched to hammer out some fine details. They agreed to meet again and working into the wee hours of November 25, 2013 the ‘historic’ JPA deal was signed. It was a six-month phase one or first step arrangement to eventually halt Iranian enrichment and their pursuit of nuclear weapons – we believed.
Fact #11 The 6-month agreement did not start immediately. ‘Technical talks’ were needed in early December to clarify the agreement. But the Iranians walked out of the first session in Geneva and flew home in protest. Why? The U.S. it was reported had the audacity to enforce some sanctions. Then came the ‘holidays’. More technical talks resumed after the New Year. But so was mounting opposition to the nuclear agreement by U.S. Senators on a bi-partisan basis.
In response, Sherman and Kerry feverishly flew about the world gathering support to close the deal. The parties announced this past Sunday that the 6-month agreement will commence 8 days later on Monday, January 20. This took some of the impetus out of the sanctions deal pushback, especially among a few Democratic Senators. But the White House, taking no chances, threw a cocktail party for Democrat Senators only Wednesday evening to count noses and bolster support on a number of fronts.
Fact #12 The EU, namely the UK, France and Germany, as well as Russia have been much more transparent about what this deal and the ‘January 20’ start date means to them. It is a new day for trade, including oil trade that has actually begun to flow already. Iran itself is practically giddy with anticipation of Billions of dollars in cash, gold, goods in exchange for oil and new oil contract sales. Yet, the U.S. government and Chamber are silent about incentives for American interests. Why is that?
We believe the U.S. President and big business are trying to have it both ways. They outwardly wish to appear sincere, tough on Iran (but not too much so), and of course, patriotic. But the U.S. government has gradually and quietly loosened the stranglehold that was obtained over several years of hard-fought and won international sanctions. The goal of sanctions was not just to bring Iran to the table, but also to limit their nuclear weapons program, their meddling in the Mideast (Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and, as a result, Israel) and regarding their human rights record.
Some of the 52 former hostages from the 1979-81 U.S. Embassy takeover saw this new deal as a defeat for them. They have been battling for remuneration from Iran for years against the until now frozen assets. Their rights appear to have been written off as part of the new agreement just as it was when they returned home in 1981.
Seemingly the U.S. government asked nothing more or demanded nothing else from Iran except to come to the table! And judging from their public silence, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and its largest member companies seem ambivalent about increased Iranian trade potential.
Fact #13 Back in 2011, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce complained bitterly when it was suggested in media reports that a letter was sent directly to Iran opposing legislation at the time that would impose additional sanctions because “they were already harming U.S. national interests.” Somehow a copy of a letter came into the hands of the Iranian Chamber of Commerce as reported in FARS, Iran’s semi-official news agency. A Chamber spokesman admitted then that a letter on U.S. Chamber of Commerce letterhead, signed by Tom Donohue, its chief executive and eight members, and eight very large U.S. companies that opposed new sanctions at that time, was actually sent to the White House – not Iran. (You connect the dots.)
Freeallthree.com did a 2-part story about the U.S. Chamber’s past involvement in opposing Iranian trade sanctions: https://freeallthree.com/2014/01/06/joint-iran-u-s-chamber-of-commerce-efforts-in-2014/
Fact #14 There were new Robert Levinson revelations in December 2013. After the UN meetings this past September, and following the President’s telephone call to Rouhani, and the new Geneva talks in November that resulted in the signing of the 6-month JPA, it became obvious that the hostages’ plight was a low administration priority and was not addressed in the talks. Because the most recent ‘proof of life’ from the entity holding Levinson was nearly 3 years old, the AP and Washington Post writers and editors decided to break a story they held back for three years at the CIA’s request. Their joint report clearly established that Levinson, even though retired from the CIA and DEA after 33 years service, was an independent contractor working for the CIA at the time he was kidnapped from Kish Island in 2007. An uproar followed when it became clear that the FBI, CIA, State department and White House spokespeople and several elected officials in Congress knew the truth within a few months of Levinson’s disappearance. Yet they continued to lie saying he had no relationship to the CIA or FBI when he was ‘kidnapped’ as they termed it. He was working as a PI on a business trip. Even after the December revelations, the White House, after lambasting the publishing of them, still insisted he was not an employee of any federal agency. They conveniently failed to mention that he was in fact a contractor of the CIA and was sent on various fact-finding missions in the past. The March 2007 trip was his first to iran, and he was sent alone.
The lie that Levinson was acting as a private investigator was officially maintained all the way up to November 26, 2013. That was the day the FBI and family members in Florida commemorated him as the longest held American hostage in a foreign country: 2,455 days! The CIA revelations in December along with the Iranian ‘thaw’ happening at the same time, served to elevate awareness of all three hostages’ plight and reignited concern for them across America and in Congress. The White House and State Department have not yet made the immediate release of the hostages a priority.
Fact #15 Joe Biden was in Israel this past Monday for the Ariel Sharon funeral. Afterwards he was at the house of Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu. According to a DEBKAfile January 14 report, the U.S. Vice President “refused to level with him on the detailed agreements which the Americans claimed were reached by the six powers and Iran in their talks earlier this week [regarding] the implementation of their first-stage Geneva accord. … It was the first time US President Barack Obama personally vetoed a briefing to Israel on the content of the international nuclear negotiations he instigated – notwithstanding his private and public pledges to Netanyahu of ‘full transparency.’ This secretiveness has stirred concern and mistrust in Jerusalem.”
Fact #16 Russia, ever the ally with Iran, has entered into an annual $18 Billion (USD) Russia-Iran ‘oil-for-goods’ deal which will virtually nullify sanctions. This claim is contained in the DEBKAfile report dated January 11. Vladimir Putin has effectively “pulled the teeth out of sanctions, by which President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu set such store for forcing the Iranians to give up their nuclear weapon aspirations. He has strengthened Tehran’s hand against going through with the concessions, such as a six-month nuclear freeze, that were provided for in the Geneva interim accord as the basis for further negotiations on a final agreement.”
Whether this alone will halt Iran from cooperating on nuclear inspections remains to be seen. But this brings to remembrance the UN’s “oil-for-food” program in the 1990’s which was rife with corruption. It was intended to aid Iraq’s general public who were suffering under similar sanctions following Iran’s invasion of Kuwait. However, based on the metal box loads of American $100 bills carried out of Saddam’s several palaces, it was clear money mainly flowed to the dictator. Corruption within the UN was also exposed. But at the time sanctions relief made the UN and others feel better about themselves.
Now Russia has plainly announced its own: ‘oil-for-goods’ program. Never mind what the goods are! Reportedly $500 million per month will be exchanged in the bartering of Russian made ‘goods’ for Iranian oil. One report indicated Iran is also seeking a replacement for the S-300 missiles. They would only be needed in the event of an Israeli attack. Iran’s ‘shopping list’ for arms is sure to be long given their new financial capability. What will remain for the benefit of Iranian people is yet to be determined.
Fact 17# The next important fact comes from our closest allies in the world: Europe. On January 20, a few days from now, a series of events are already planned by the EU. It starts about 4:00 a.m. New York time, in Europe as the following details:
BRUSSELS (AP) — “Sometime between breakfast and lunchtime Monday, a message will arrive in Belgium’s capital that should set in motion an international diplomatic machine, affect billions of dollars blocked in banks and have repercussions from US college campuses to oil tankers on the seas.
In Tehran, inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency are expected to certify that day whether Iran is respecting its engagement to rein in its nuclear program, which the Obama administration and US allies fear is directed at producing a bomb.
If the inspectors are satisfied the Iranians are keeping their word, European Union governments, with the White House’s blessing, are poised to deliver with surprising swiftness on their end of the deal: a six-month suspension of some of the sanctions that are hobbling Iran’s economy.
Foreign ministers of Britain, Germany, France and the rest of the EU member countries will be in Brussels on Monday for one of their periodic meetings.
EU officials said Thursday the plan is that within 30 minutes of receiving an email, phone call or other form of communication from IAEA inspectors or their bosses in Vienna, the foreign ministers will unanimously approve the necessary changes in European Union legislation, and transmit their decision to the trade bloc’s offices in the neighboring country of Luxembourg.
Within an hour or hour and half, the new regulations should be posted in the EU’s official journal, published in Luxembourg, and take effect, a European Union official said.
All this should happen between 10 a.m. and noon Monday …
Under the deal with Iran, brokered by EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, Tehran will be able to progressively take possession of $3.6 billion it has been paid for oil sold to China, India, Japan, Turkey, Taiwan and South Korea. Those funds are blocked in those countries’ banks because of US sanctions.
Once the sixth-month suspension takes effect, Iranian officials could jet to Japan or India and carry “bags of cash” back home, the EU official said.
The sanctions suspension also raises tenfold the ceilings for money transfers to and from Iran, and temporarily lifts a ban on transactions in gold and other precious metals.
An additional $600 million in Iranian oil sales proceeds will be freed up to help pay the educational costs of young Iranians, many of whom are enrolled in American colleges and universities.
The temporary lifting of selected sanctions will also allow European Union shipping companies to use their own tankers or charter third country-flagged vessels to transport Iranian crude oil to China, India, Japan, Turkey, Taiwan and South Korea.
[Emphases above added]
Fact #18 So, what is the impact back of the new Iran deal in the U.S. … on government, business and institutions? …
The FACT is: “We don’t know!” The President is not talking, at least not to ‘We the People.’ The State Department allowed Senators and their aides who had proper security clearances to view, but not copy, the Agreement. Senators were also briefed by the State Department’s Wendy Sherman, lead iranian negotiator for the U.S.. Some Senators said they had more questions and concerns after the briefing! Copies of the actual agreement were not given to elected officials, the press or the public, because, as the Administration states, it is mainly an EU and IAEA effort and it is up to them what can be released.
The other P5+1 countries are quickly getting down to business on January 20. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce expressed its preferences for eased sanctions to the White House three years ago. But we are left to our imaginations how U.S. big business will benefit from the January 20 start of the six-month deal.
What is the impact of the six-month nuclear deal on the three American hostages in Iran? That is also unknown and is yet another cruelty inflicted on the hostages’ families! What makes it worse is not knowing how or even if the U.S. leadership, Barack Obama chiefly, will make the hostages’ plight a HIGH PRIORITY during the negotiations. (L to R pictured above: Amir Hekmati, 30, Saeed Abedini, 33 and Robert Levinson, 65)
Many including Freeallthree.com urgently call on the President to speak up for these three men by name. In the past, a President personally speaking out has both improved hostages’ treatment while being held and led to sooner releases. The conditions in Iran are deplorable, inhumane and far below basic international standards. All three hostages’ health has deteriorated significantly according to family members.
We call on the President and Congress to call on Iran to immediately release all three American hostages in Iran as a PRE-CONDITION before signing any further agreements with Iran. Iran has also expressed the desire to hold bi-lateral talks with the world powers and other nations separately. The U.S. should not agree to meet face-to-face in bi-laterals unless and until the three hostages are returned to their families.
To continue to ignore the suffering of these three men and their families by the Obama Administration would be, plainly said, un-American!