Friday, July 31, 2015

Corker: IAEA Head Declined to Appear Before Committee to Discuss Secret Side Deals

The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has refused to appear before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, in an open or classified hearing, to discuss issues including concerns about secret “side agreements” to the Iran nuclear deal, committee chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) revealed Thursday. Read

Expert Tells Congress, Iran Deal May 'Neuter U.S. Ability' to Sanction Iran for Its Support of Terrorism

A provision in the Iran nuclear agreement that commits the U.S. to refrain from jeopardizing the “normalization of trade economic relations” with Tehran may impede future efforts to restrain and respond to the regime’s bad behavior, lawmakers were told Thursday. Read

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Australian FM Slams Russia Over Shoot-Down of Civilian Plane: Your Veto ‘Compounds the Atrocity’

Australia’s foreign minister could barely hide her contempt for the Putin regime Wednesday as she rebuked Russia for vetoing a U.N. Security Council resolution that would have established a criminal tribunal into the shooting down of a civilian aircraft over Ukraine. Read

‘Do You Apologize or Not?’: Kerry, Cruz Spar Over What Gold Star Families Should be Told About Iran Sanctions Relief

Wednesday’s Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the Iran nuclear agreement witnessed were some dramatic moments, especially as outspoken critics of the deal focused on one of Iran’s most notorious figures and his role in the killing of hundreds of Americans. Read

Kerry : ‘I Have No Specific Knowledge of a Plan by Iran to Actually Destroy Us’

Secretary of State John Kerry says he does not know whether the Iranian regime truly wants to destroy America, but views its policy as one “of opposition to us and of great enmity.” Read

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Kerry: Iran Deal Not a Treaty ‘Because You Can’t Pass a Treaty Anymore’

The White House did not pursue the nuclear agreement with Iran as an international treaty, because getting U.S. Senate advice and consent for a treaty has “become physically impossible,” Secretary of State John Kerry told lawmakers on Tuesday. Read

Kerry Acknowledges Iran ‘May’ Use Weapons Obtained Through Agreement to Kill Americans, Israelis

( – Secretary of State John Kerry conceded on Tuesday that Iran “may” use weapons that it will acquire as a result of restrictions being lifted under the nuclear agreement to kill Americans and Israelis. Read

Obama to Africa: ‘No One Person is Above the Law – Not Even The President’

Scolding African leaders who refuse to step down when their constitutional terms end, President Obama said in Ethiopia Tuesday he reckoned he could win a third term if he was permitted to run. Read

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Kerry Remembers That New Zealand Does Support Iran Nuclear Deal

Four days ago Secretary of State John Kerry could not say whether New Zealand supported the Iran nuclear deal. On Monday he welcomed the Pacific island nation’s foreign minister to the State Department, thanking him for “New Zealand’s very strong support of the agreement with Iran.” Read

Energy Secretary: Secret Side Deals to Iran Agreement Are ‘Standard Practice’ With IAEA

Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz on Monday played down lawmakers’ concerns about secret “side deals” between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), saying it was “standard practice” for the IAEA and individual countries not to make such documents public. Read

Monday, July 27, 2015

Kerry Repeats Claim – Evidently Wrong – About UN Resolution Language on Iran Missiles, Arms Embargo

The Obama administration’s assertion that a key U.N. Security Council sanctions resolution predicates the lifting of arms and ballistic missile restrictions on Iran to Tehran’s willingness simply to come to the negotiating table, is evidently wrong. Read

Kenyan President Tells Obama: LGBT Rights ‘a Non-Issue’ For Kenyans Today

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta pushed back gently against President Obama’s promotion of homosexual and lesbian rights on Saturday, saying Kenyans had more pressing concerns to deal with, including health, education and “ensuring inclusivity of women.” Read

Friday, July 24, 2015

In Heated Senate Hearing Kerry Portrayed as ‘Naïve,’ ‘Fleeced’ by the Iranians

U.S. senators opposed to the Iran nuclear agreement told Secretary of State John Kerry Thursday he had been “fleeced” and “bamboozled” by the Iranians. Read

Obama Pledges to Use Last 18 Months in Office Pushing Gun Control

President Obama on Thursday pledged to use his last 18 months in office to work on gun control, calling it “the one area where I feel that I’ve been most frustrated and most stymied.” Read

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Expert: Iranian Threat to Walk Away from Agreement if Sanctions are Restored Undercuts Touted ‘Snapback’

The Iran nuclear agreement is “fundamentally flawed,” allowing Tehran to use the threat of nuclear escalation to intimidate the West into not using sanctions as an effective tool to enforce Iranian compliance with the deal, lawmakers were told on Wednesday. Read

British PM: Poverty Is Not the Root Cause of Islamist Terrorism

British Prime Minister David Cameron has challenged the notion – aired in recent years by some Obama administration officials – that poverty is driving young people to join terrorist groups like Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS/ISIL). Read

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Zarif: Iran Achieved ‘Main Objectives’ in Nuke Deal; Ballistic Missile Activity Unconstrained

Briefing the Iranian parliament Tuesday on the nuclear agreement reached with the U.S. and five other nations, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said Iran had achieved its “main objectives” in the negotiations – “maintaining Iran’s dignity and might, establishing the nuclear program, [uranium] enrichment and retaining the heavy-water reactor.” Read

Schwarzenegger Tells ‘Spiritual’ Climate Change Meeting: ‘This Is Bigger Than Any Movie’

As momentum builds for what climate change advocacy groups are billing as the most important U.N. mega-conference on the subject ever, religious leaders, artists and scholars met in the French capital Tuesday to discuss climate change “from a spiritual perspective.” Read

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Cuban FM: 'Political Opening’ Happened in 1959; 'We Are Very Zealous of Our Sovereignty'

Asked Monday whether his government envisaged “a political opening in Cuba” occurring as ties with the United States are normalized, Havana’s foreign minister replied bluntly that the “political opening in Cuba happened in the year 1959.” Read

UN Body Grants Formal Recognition to Hamas-Linked Group

A key United Nations body on Monday granted official status to a non-governmental organization with alleged links to Hamas, rejecting a bid by Israel, supported by the U.S. and others, to deny it the recognition it sought. Read

Israeli Envoy: ‘When the Villain is Laughing, You Know Something is Wrong’

Shortly after the U.N. Security Council voted Monday to lift sanctions on Iran as part of a negotiated nuclear agreement, Israel’s ambassador to the U.N. warned that the whole world will pay the price, and said that “when the villain is laughing, you know something is wrong.” Read

Monday, July 20, 2015

Deal Would Help Iran Defend Its Nuclear Facilities Against 'Sabotage'

Three days after the Iran nuclear agreement was announced in Vienna, Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday gave interviews to five Sunday talk shows, but none of them asked him about a puzzling inclusion in the deal of a reference to helping Iran defend its nuclear facilities against “sabotage.” Read

‘19,000 Centrifuges Already Spinning’: Kerry Implies Iran’s Enrichment Capacity Grew Mostly Under Bush

Secretary of State John Kerry said in a television interview screened Sunday that when President Obama came into office he was “dealt … a hand” of “19,000 [Iranian] centrifuges already spinning.” Read

Friday, July 17, 2015

US Negotiator on Iran Sanctions: We Can’t Tell the World, ‘You Should Wait’ for Congress

Responding to criticism about the administration’s plans to secure a U.N. Security Council resolution enshrining the Iran nuclear agreement before Congress reviews the deal, Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman said Thursday it would have been difficult for the U.S. to tell the world that it “should wait for the United States Congress.” Read

Kerry in Mix-Up Over Iranian Top Terrorist Soleimani

Secretary of State John Kerry erroneously suggested Thursday that the commander of Iran’s Qods Force, accused of killing Americans and plotting terror attacks in Washington, is not among Iranians listed in the nuclear agreement as being in line for sanctions relief. Read

Thursday, July 16, 2015

As Kerry Recalled His War Experience at End of Iran Talks, ‘Everyone Had Tears in Their Eyes’

In the closing minutes of the Iran nuclear negotiations in Vienna this week, Secretary of State John Kerry made a comment about having gone to war as a young man and not wanting to do so again, leaving everyone in the room, including the Iranians, with “tears in their eyes.” Read

Sen. Cotton: ‘Nine Years Ago Iran Was Trying to Kill Me, and to Kill My Soldiers’

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) recalled Wednesday that as an infantry officer in Iraq “nine years ago, Iran was trying to kill me, and to kill my soldiers.” The Iranian general blamed for directing those efforts is among those in line for sanctions relief in various stages of implementation of the Iran nuclear deal. Read

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Iran Deal Includes Loophole in Sanctions ‘Snapback’ Mechanism

The much-touted “snapback” provision in the Iran nuclear deal that will restore sanctions in the event of Iranian noncompliance involves a convoluted process that will last around 65 days and, after jumping a series of hurdles, may result in sanctions being reimposed – “unless the U.N. Security Council decides otherwise.” Read

Kerry Dismisses Iran's Financial Support for Hezbollah, Other Terror Groups

Secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday played down concerns that Iran will use the windfall from sanctions relief under the nuclear agreement to boost sponsorship for terrorists, suggesting that groups like Hezbollah do not benefit all that much from Iranian financial support in the first place. Read

Obama Not Waiting for Congress to Review Iran Deal Before Going to UN

Despite a legal obligation to allow Congress to review the Iran nuclear agreement for 60 days, the Obama administration will press ahead with a U.N. Security Council resolution enshrining the deal, likely within days. Read

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Jeb Bush Hits Out at Administration’s Iran Deal ‘Straw Man’

Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush slammed the Obama administration in a video clip screened Monday for implying that opponents of the imminent Iran nuclear deal are warmongers. Read

WH: 'Tough Sell Is Going to Be on the Part of Republicans' If They Try to Kill Iran Deal

Hitting back at congressional criticism of the Iran nuclear deal that could be announced early Tuesday, White House press secretary Josh Earnest on Monday suggested again that those who oppose the deal were opting for war. Read

Iran's Supreme Leader Posts Photo of Himself Trampling Israeli Flag: 'The Zionist Regime Is Doomed'

A photograph posted on Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s official website--as the Obama administration was finalizing negotiations on a deal intended to prevent Iran from building a nulcear weapon--shows the walking stick-waving supreme leader striding across, and apparently glaring at, a painted representation of Israel’s national flag. Read

Monday, July 13, 2015

Media Mix-Up Follows Report of Pakistani Terrorist’s Death

The Afghan security agency reported at the weekend that a top Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) leader in Afghanistan had been killed in a U.S. drone strike, but ensuing media coverage sparked confusion as some outlets mixed up two Pakistani terrorists with similar names. Read

Sen. Cotton Sees ‘Open Congressional Rebellion’ Over Imminent Iran Nuclear Deal

Amid indications that marathon negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program will deliver a final agreement on Monday, Republican – and some Democratic – critics on Capitol Hill expressed deep misgivings about the looming deal. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) warned there could be a “congressional rebellion.” Read

Friday, July 10, 2015

Russia, Hosting Two Major Summits, Says Crimea Issue ‘Closed’

Underlining Russia’s contention that it is anything but isolated internationally over its actions in Ukraine, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Thursday that leaders at two summits hosted by Russia this week did not raise concerns relating to its annexation of Crimea. Read

Does Administration View Russia As Its ‘Greatest’ Security Threat? State Dep't Won’t Say

The U.S. Marine general nominated to be the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told lawmakers Thursday that he regards Russia as the greatest threat to U.S. national security, but a State Department spokesman repeatedly declined to say whether that view was shared by the administration. Read

Thursday, July 09, 2015

UNESCO Backs Muslim Narrative on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount

A key committee of the United Nations cultural agency adopted a resolution this week whose language implicitly endorses the legend underpinning Islam’s claim to the Western Wall of the Temple Mount -- the assertion that Mohammed tied his winged steed there while en route from Mecca to heaven. Read

US-UAE Anti-ISIS Message: ‘Just a Few’ Muslims Have ‘Hijacked’ a ‘Religion of Peace’

The U.S. State Department and its Emirati counterpart on Wednesday launched a UAE-based initiative aimed at countering the Islamic State's use of social media, declaring in a launch video that “the voices of over a billion Muslims and hundreds of millions of others cannot be drowned out by the hatred of just a few.” Read

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Dempsey: 'Under No Circumstances Should We Relieve Pressure on Iran' on ICBMs

As yet another deadline in the Iran nuclear talks slipped Tuesday, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army Gen. Martin Dempsey said on Capitol Hill that the U.S. should not release any pressure on Iran relating to its ballistic missile program and conventional arms trade. Read

Russian Lawmakers Move to Ban U.S. Pro-Democracy Groups

Russian lawmakers are due to vote Wednesday on a motion to designate a dozen foreign non-governmental organizations, seven of them American, as “undesirable,” the latest move in President Vladimir Putin’s decade-long campaign against foreign NGOs. Read

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Kenyan Politician: If Obama Brings 'Gay Agenda, We Will Tell Him to Shut Up and Go Home'

When he visits his father’s homeland in Africa later this month, President Obama is expected to run into vocal opposition over his administration’s high-profile promotion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) issues. Read

WH Welcomes ‘Historic’ First-Ever Visit by Vietnam’s Communist Party Boss

On the eve of what the White House is calling a “historic” meeting between President Obama and Vietnam’s communist party chief, 82 percent of respondents in a Vietnamese-language survey conducted by a U.S.-based Vietnamese pro-democracy group said that the visiting official does not legitimately represent the country. Read

Monday, July 06, 2015

Economic Crisis Deepens as Greeks Say a Resounding ‘No’ to More Austerity

European leaders are scrambling to respond to a resounding rejection of a rescue package to resolve Greece's debt crisis, facing a choice between softening the bailout demands on Greece or seeing it leave the Eurozone currency bloc – possibly triggering a bigger exodus. Read

Isolated? Putin Prepares to Host Two Major Summits

Far from being isolated after fueling separatist violence in Ukraine and annexing Crimea 16 months ago, Russian President Vladimir Putin this week is hosting two major summits of groupings whose overlapping membership accounts for two-fifths of the world’s population. Read

Last Push: Kerry Still Hoping for an Iran Deal That Will Enable Negotiators to ‘Hold our Heads High’

Pushing to wrap up a final Iran nuclear agreement by Tuesday, Secretary of State John Kerry said in Vienna on Sunday that the talks could still go “either way,” indicating once again that the administration will walk away from the table rather than settle for a bad deal. Read

Thursday, July 02, 2015

GOP Critics Threaten to Block Nomination of U.S. Ambassador to Cuba

Castro regime critics on Capitol Hill paid scant regard Wednesday to President Obama’s appeal for Congress to back his decision to restore diplomatic relations with Havana. Several pledged instead to oppose any nominee for U.S. ambassador to Cuba and withhold funds for construction work on a reopened U.S. Embassy. Read

At UN Rights Council, Don’t Use the Word ‘Genocidal’ in Reference to Palestinian Terrorists

The president of the Human Rights Council took issue this week with the use by a non-governmental organization representative of the term “genocidal killers” to describe Palestinian terrorists, but Venezuela’s representative was not reprimanded from the chair when he called Israel’s offensive against Hamas last year a “genocidal attack.” Read

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Greece Debt Crisis: UN-Appointed Experts View Creditors’ Terms As Violation of Human Rights

As Greece overnight became the first developed country to default on its debt, two U.N.-appointed rights experts with left-leaning mandates expressed support for the Greek government’s referendum on terms for an international bailout, characterizing it as “eloquent expression of the self-determination of the Greek people.” Read

As Deadline Passes, U.S. Backs Away From ‘Anytime, Anywhere’ Access to Iran’s Military Sites

Responding to a question about how the administration will explain its shifting statements on key elements of an Iran nuclear deal, a senior U.S. official at the talks in Vienna said that what Americans will ultimately “care about” will be the quality of the overall final agreement. Read