Posted by AzBlueMeanie:
After all the blood and treasure this country has expended in America's longest war in Afghanistan, and the unnecessary and illegal war in Iraq, there is still a bipartisan coalition of U.S. senators who dream of the next war with Iran.
They won't fight this war of course; and neither will their children. They will send your sons and daughters to die in a war that will drag on at least as long, if not longer, than Afghanistan. And when the inevitable retaliatory terrorist attacks occur, well, that will just serve as a rallying cry for more war. Because there is big money to be made in war, damnit! These senate war mongers want to get their war on with Iran. The fact that this includes Democrats is enraging.
These senators are actively seeking to sabotage the current P5+1 negotiations currently under way with Iran. This is how the Washington Post reported it, Senators defy White House, threaten new Iran sanctions:
A bipartisan group of 26 senators introduced legislation Thursday that threatened new sanctions against Iran, dismissing warnings from the White House that such a move could scuttle efforts to peacefully resolve the dispute over Iran’s nuclear program.
The bill, called the Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2013, drew a rebuke from the Obama administration and highlighted deep divisions among Senate Democrats on whether to heap new pressures on Tehran’s government while sensitive diplomacy is underway.
Hours after the bill’s introduction, a separate group of senior Democrats revealed in a letter that U.S. intelligence agencies had cautioned lawmakers in private briefings about the consequences of new sanctions. A Dec. 10 intelligence assessment had concluded that new punitive measures would “undermine the prospects for a comprehensive nuclear agreement with Iran,” according to the letter, signed by 10 Democrats.
The escalation in the fight over sanctions comes less than four weeks after diplomats from Iran and six world powers signed a historic accord in Geneva that temporarily freezes key parts of Tehran’s nuclear program in return for short-term relief from some economic sanctions. Negotiators set a six-month deadline for hammering out a permanent treaty that would set strict limits on Iran’s nuclear capabilities.
The measure introduced Thursday, if approved, would impose harsh new sanctions on Iran’s petroleum industry while also threatening U.S. allies and partners with financial restrictions unless they sharply curtail trade with Iran. The sanctions would go into effect if Iran violated the terms of the temporary accord reached last month or if it failed to reach a permanent agreement with world powers in a timely manner.
Sponsors of the bill said it would increase U.S. leverage as the nation’s diplomats continue to work toward a permanent deal. But White House officials had pushed hard to delay the bill’s introduction, saying that even the threat of new sanctions could cause the fragile negotiations to collapse.
Iran has warned that any additional U.S. sanctions during the ongoing nuclear talks could doom chances for a deal. Iran’s diplomatic team briefly walked away from a round of technical negotiations last week after the Obama administration took action to enforce existing sanctions against the Islamic republic.
“We have made very clear to them that we do not believe now is the time to pass any additional, new sanctions through Congress,” White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters. “We don’t think it will be enacted; we certainly don’t think it should be enacted.”
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The letter from the 10 Senate Democrats urged Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) not to allow the measure to come up for a vote.
“We believe that new sanctions would play into the hands of those in Iran who are most eager to see the negotiations fail,” said the letter, whose signatories included Sens. Carl Levin (Mich.) and Dianne Feinstein (Calif.).
The bill’s prospects appear uncertain at best. Even if Reid allows the bill to come to the floor and it passes, it would have to be reconciled with a far harsher House version passed in the summer. Even if those hurdles were cleared, the legislation would still be likely to face a White House veto.
The Washington Post reporting is superficial — the reporters are describing what one can see publicly, but they are not revealing what is going on behind closed doors out of public view. Who is the driving force behind this effort to sabotage negotiations with Iran? Who is hellbent for a disastrous war with Iran? And why are these senators doing their bidding?
For that we need to turn to Jim White over at Emptywheel, MEK Purchases 27 US Senate Votes for War With Iran (in full):
On Tuesday, I posited that the threat of new sanctions kicking in if a final agreement on nuclear technology is not reached could serve as a strong incentive for Iran to bargain in good faith with the P5+1 group of nations. But then, on Thursday, an actual sanctions bill was introduced. Ali Gharib took the time to read it (he got an advance copy and posted about it Wednesday) and what he found is profoundly disturbing (emphasis added):
The legislation would broaden the scope of the sanctions already imposed against Iran, expanding the restrictions on Iran’s energy sector to include all aspects of its petroleum trade and putting in place measures targeting Iran’s shipping and mining sectors. The bill allows Obama to waive the new sanctions during the current talks by certifying every 30 days that Iran is complying with the Geneva deal and negotiating in good faith on a final agreement, as well as meeting other conditions such as not sponsoring or carrying out acts of terrorism against U.S. targets.
In accordance with goals laid out frequently by hard-liners in Congress and the influential lobbying group the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the bill sets tough conditions for a final deal, should one be reached with Iranian negotiators. Among those conditions is a provision that only allows Obama to waive new sanctions, even after a final deal has been struck, if that deal bars Iran from enriching any new uranium whatsoever. The bill states Obama may not waive sanctions unless the United States and its allies “reached a final and verifiable agreement or arrangement with Iran that will … dismantle Iran’s illicit nuclear infrastructure, including enrichment and reprocessing capabilities and facilities.” (Congress could also block Obama’s waivers by passing a “joint resolution of disapproval” against a final deal.)
Although Gharib ascribes the war mongering aspects of this bill to positions advocated by AIPAC, the work (and funding money) of MEK, which advocates for (in my opinion, violent) regime change in Iran, seems to be just as likely, if not more likely, to be behind this hideous piece of legislation.
The chief architect of the bill is Robert Menendez (D-NJ). He lists his cosponsors (Menendez’s original release claimed 26 cosponsors and the news stories linked below also cite 26, but Corey Booker was added to the list this morning while this post was being written. The press release was changed to add Booker to the list without changing the 26 to 27. The press release at the old URL was wiped out so that an empty page is returned. The date of December 19 for the release was also retained.):
The legislation was co-sponsored by twenty-six senators [sic], including: Senators Menendez, Kirk, Schumer, Graham, Cardin, McCain, Casey, Rubio, Coons, Cornyn, Blumenthal, Ayotte, Begich, Corker, Pryor, Collins, Landrieu, Moran, Gillibrand, Roberts, Warner, Johanns, Hagan, Cruz, Donnelly, Blunt and Booker.
Perhaps the only encouraging aspect of this long list of bipartisan backers of war is that back in June of 2012 this group got 44 signatures on a Senate letter calling for all negotiations with Iran to cease unless three conditions were met:
The senators wrote that the “absolute minimum” Iran must do immediately to justify further talks is to shut down the Fordo uranium enrichment facility near Qom, freeze all uranium enrichment above 5 percent, and ship all uranium enriched above 5 percent out of the country.
Note that the current agreement does stop enrichment above 5%. It also calls for half of the 20% uranium to be diluted back down to 5% while the other half is converted to a chemical form for fuel that can’t easily be further enriched. Qom is not shut down, but the agreement does spell out specific numbers of centrifuges that can be used at the two enrichment sites.
But consider this for a moment. Most of what these war mongers were lobbying for last year actually appears in the interim agreement, and so they have been forced to move the goalposts in order to reach a point that they think won’t be part of the final agreement. What they want is a war to change the regime in Iran, not a diplomatic solution that prevents nuclear weapons being developed by Iran.
It became obvious during the final discussions that led to this interim agreement that Iran insists on its right to low level enrichment to produce fuel for nuclear power plants. Since that is seen as a deal-breaker for Iran, it is precisely what the MEK now sets as the determinant of whether sanctions that will certainly lead to war are enacted.
The intellectual dishonesty surrounding this move by MEK shills in the Senate is stunning. They claim, as stated in Menendez’s press release that their goal is “the complete and verifiable termination of Iran’s illicit nuclear weapons program.” Low level enrichment is not part of a weapons program and yet this group insists that Iran also must abandon low level enrichment along with any aspects of a weapons program.
Even more disturbing is that stories today by both the New York Times and CNN mention the introduction of the bill but don’t get around to explaining that the bill calls for the extreme sanctions if all enrichment is not abandoned and that that condition is almost certainly a deal-breaker for Iran.
There is at least some push-back within the Senate. A letter signed by ten Democratic committee heads has been sent to Harry Reid strongly advocating against bringing the bill up for a vote. Sadly, the letter fails to point out the manner in which Menendez’s bill undercuts the ongoing negotiations by setting terms that almost certainly are not going to be a part of any final agreement with Iran. There also is an op-ed (in Politico) by Carl Levin and Barbara Boxer lobbying against the bill. Significantly, Levin was one of the 44 signatories on the June, 2012 letter but now seems to have come around to favoring diplomacy over war. Failing all this, the White House has promised to veto any bills calling for new sanctions since they clearly violate the interim P5+1 agreement.
If this sanctions bill advances that far it will have already sabotaged the current negotiations, which will have ended without agreement. There will be no need for a veto at that point. The U.S. Senate will have already signaled its intentions for war with Iran.
Remember Ahmed Chalabi and the Iraqi National Congress created at the behest of the U.S. government for the purpose of fomenting the overthrow of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein? And how the INC fabricated "evidence" of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) that the Neocon war mongers in the Bush-Cheney administration used to lie this country into an unnecessary and illegal war in iraq?
That same scenario is now playing out once again with MEK ("The People's Mojahedin of Iran"), the opposition movement in exile which advocates the overthrow of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and its Neocon war monger supporters in Washington. D.C.
I have a real problem with U.S. Senators doing the bidding of foreign entities to steer this country into wars overthrowing sovereign governments. If senators are working as agents on behalf of foreign entities, they are perilously close to treason. The national security interests of the United States are not concomitant with the interests of exile groups seeking to overthrow sovereign governments. Just remember what happened with Ahmed Chalabi and the Iraqi National Congress.