Eye on Iran: Crucial Questions Remain as Iran Nuclear Talks Approach Deadline

Top Stories

NYT: "Iran's top nuclear negotiator was heading back to Tehran on Sunday to consult with his nation's leadership, as negotiators remained divided over how to limit and monitor Tehran's nuclear program and even on how to interpret the preliminary agreement they reached two months ago. With all sides now acknowledging that the talks would need to continue beyond Tuesday, once considered the absolute deadline for a final deal, officials from several nations said some of the politically difficult questions - from inspections to how fast Iran could expand its nuclear infrastructure in the waning years of an accord - are still just as vexing as they were when the 18-month negotiation odyssey began... For Mr. Kerry's counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran's foreign minister, the obstacles to achieving his No. 1 goal - getting the crippling sanctions on Iran lifted - are a tricky mix of both substance and perception. His sudden flight back to Iran - Mr. Kerry was informed about the trip on Saturday - may reflect his own delicate balancing act: He cannot appear to contradict the latest 'red lines' laid out by Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. And he must emerge from the talks able to make a convincing case that his concessions do not add up to what the ayatollah recently described as a 'totalitarian agreement' sought by the Americans. 'There are red lines which we cannot cross and some very difficult decisions,' said Philip Hammond, the British foreign secretary, who joined the talks here on Sunday. 'There are a number of different areas where we still have major differences of interpretation in detailing what was agreed at Lausanne,' he added, referring to the Swiss location of the last talks in April... The last days of talks are often the hardest. Gary Samore, Mr. Obama's former adviser on weapons of mass destruction and is the president of a group called United Against a Nuclear Iran, offered some advice: 'Don't make any more concessions to get a deal in early July. They need a deal more than we do.'" http://t.uani.com/1FKg5uX

Reuters: "Iran is backtracking from an interim nuclear agreement with world powers three months ago, Western officials suggested on Sunday, as U.S. and Iranian officials said talks on a final accord would likely run past a June 30 deadline... Highlighting how much work remains in the nuclear negotiations, British Foreign Minister Philip Hammond said on arrival in Vienna that major challenges remained, including on the parameters already agreed in April in Lausanne, Switzerland. 'There are a number of different areas where we still have major differences of interpretation in detailing what was agreed in Lausanne,' Hammond told reporters. 'There is going to have to be some give or take if we are to get this done in the next few days,' he said. 'No deal is better than a bad deal.' Other Western officials echoed Hammond's remarks, saying some of the backtracking involved the mechanics of monitoring Iranian compliance with proposed limits on nuclear activities. 'It feels like we haven't advanced on the technical issues and even gone back on some,' a Western diplomat said on condition of anonymity. Another Western official traced the apparent backtracking to a speech by Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei last week, in which he ruled out freezing sensitive nuclear work in the country for a long time." http://t.uani.com/1GVca2h

Politico: "Days away from a potential nuclear deal with Iran, senior Republican senators are plotting a strategy to undermine the multilateral accord just as the Obama administration tries to sell it to a skeptical Congress. For weeks, Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee and Republicans on his Foreign Relations Committee have gleaned fresh intelligence from classified briefings with senior administration officials and policy experts - information they intend to use against the White House when it pitches the plan to lawmakers. Corker has told President Barack Obama it's 'breathtaking' that his administration has allegedly backed off its insistence on aggressive inspections of Iran's nuclear plants, a key outstanding issue in the talks... If and when a deal is inked, GOP leaders are weighing a legislative strategy that would force Congress to vote on a motion of approval, a move that would be designed to show that only a minority of lawmakers back the nuclear plan. That could embarrass the president, even if he persuades 34 Senate Democrats to help him sustain a veto and keep the accord alive. For Obama, the activity points to a treacherous road ahead in Congress if his administration manages to strike an accord in the coming days. Republicans are attacking the potential agreement as dangerous to national security, and GOP presidential candidates are vowing to abandon it if they win." http://t.uani.com/1InNFgy

   

Nuclear Program & Negotiations

AP: "A senior U.S. official acknowledged Sunday that Iran nuclear talks will go past their June 30 target date, as Iran's foreign minister prepared to head home for consultations before returning to push for a breakthrough. Iranian media said Mohammed Javad Zarif's trip was planned in advance. Still, the fact that he was leaving the talks so close to what had been the Tuesday deadline reflected both that the talks had a ways to go and his need to get instructions on how to proceed on issues where the sides remain apart - among them how much access Tehran should give to U.N. experts monitoring his country's compliance to any deal... The dispute over access surfaced again Sunday, with Iranian Gen. Masoud Jazayeri saying that any inspection by foreigners of Iran's military centers is prohibited. He said the attempt by the U.S. and its allies to 'obtain Iran's military information for years ... by the pressure of sanctions' will not succeed." http://t.uani.com/1NtAiuL

Bloomberg: "The 'real political deadline' for a final nuclear deal between the P5+1 countries and Iran is July 9, not the end of this month, according to Colin Kahl, Vice President Joe Biden's national security adviser. On June 22, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said, 'We are sticking to the deadline. The deadline is June 30.' He also said, however, that 'short-term adjustments may be required' after the deadline to complete an agreement. Kahl's comments are the first public acknowledgment that the U.S. team is allowing itself more than a week of wiggle room to get the deal done. Secretary of State John Kerry left Washington today to join negotiations in Vienna. Kahl, who also serves as deputy assistant to President Barack Obama for national security, told an audience at the Truman National Security Project conference Friday that U.S. negotiators are operating under the view that they have until July 9 to complete a deal. He said that deadline took into account the 30-day review period that legislation provides for if the deal is submitted to Congress before July 9 and a 60-day review period if submitted after July 9. The administration doesn't want to give the Congress 60 days to review the deal and thereby further delay its implementation, Kahl said." http://t.uani.com/1eeBIgR

WSJ: "Iran secretly passed to the White House beginning in late 2009 the names of prisoners it wanted released from U.S. custody, part of a wish list to test President Barack Obama's commitment to improving ties and a move that set off years of clandestine dispatches that helped open the door to nuclear negotiations. The secret messages, via an envoy sent by the Sultan of Oman, also included a request to blacklist opposition groups hostile to Iran and increase U.S. visas for Iranian students, according to officials familiar with the matter. The U.S. eventually acceded to some of the requests, these officials said, including help with the release of four Iranians detained in the U.S. and U.K.: two convicted arms smugglers, a retired senior diplomat and a prominent scientist convicted of illegal exports to Iran. The exchanges through 2013 helped build the foundation for the first direct talks between the two nations since the 1979 Islamic revolution, current and former U.S. officials involved in the diplomacy said." http://t.uani.com/1HsxeAH

AFP: "US President Barack Obama recently sent a private message to Iran's leadership via Iraq's prime minister, an Iranian newspaper reported Monday on the eve of a deadline for a nuclear deal. Hamshahri, Iran's highest-circulation daily, citing a lawmaker, said 'one of the leaders of a neighbouring country' took the message from Obama to officials in Tehran. The subject discussed was the nuclear talks between Iran and world powers led by the United States it said, without giving further details on its content. The newspaper suggested that the message bearer was Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, who met Obama on June 8 on the sidelines of a G7 summit in Germany. Abadi visited Tehran on June 17, meeting Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as well as President Hassan Rouhani." http://t.uani.com/1KkpHTv

Reuters: "Laurent Fabius spoke to reporters upon arrival in the Austrian capital after top U.S. and Iranian diplomats said hard work was still needed for what could be their final negotiations to bridge significant differences. 'What we want is a robust deal that recognizes Iran's right to civil nuclear power, but guarantees that Iran gives up definitively the nuclear weapon,' Fabius said. For this there were three 'indispensable' conditions, he said: A lasting limitation of Iran's research and development capacity, rigorous inspections of sites, including military if needed, and the automatic return of sanctions if Iran violates its commitments. 'These three conditions respect Iran's sovereignty. They have still not been accepted by everybody, yet they form the key base of the triangle that forms the robust agreement that we want,' he said." http://t.uani.com/1CEpuEh

AFP: "Kerry told reporters that although he remained 'hopeful' there was still 'a lot of hard work to do'. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif agreed, saying negotiators 'need to work really hard in order to be able to make progress and move forward'. But his deputy Abbas Araghchi suggested parts of the Lausanne framework no longer applied because other countries had changed their positions. 'In Lausanne we found solutions to many things, but some issues remained unresolved,' he told an Arabic-language Iranian television channel Al-Alam. 'And now some of the solutions found in Lausanne no longer work, because after Lausanne certain countries within the P5+1 made declarations... and we see a change in their position which complicates the task."' http://t.uani.com/1GVehTS

AP: "Nuclear negotiators for Iran, obligated to dispose tons of enriched uranium under an approaching deal, are focusing on a U.S.-backed plan for Iran to send the material to another country for sale as reactor fuel, diplomats told The Associated Press on Saturday. While Iran says it does not want nuclear arms, it has more than 8 tons that could be turned into the fissile core of a dozen or more atomic bombs if the material was further enriched to weapons-grade levels. The export-and-sell option has been floated before, and the diplomats emphasized that the sides have not agreed on that solution in the search for what to do with the low-enriched uranium stockpile... Other options discussed would mean changing the enriched uranium into a form that cannot be used for weapons or shipping it abroad for storage, probably in Russia. One of the diplomats said Russia was a key candidate in the idea being floated that Moscow would convert the low-enriched material and Iran would get a large share of the profits from any sale." http://t.uani.com/1KkmMKt

WashPost: "Underscoring what could happen if the talks fail, a senior Iranian official warned that Tehran could resume enriching uranium at a faster pace after putting much of it on hold while the talks were underway. 'Do not think that Iran needs a deal,' said Ali Larijani, speaker of the Iranian parliament, according to a report Sunday on the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcast. 'We welcome an agreement, but I do not [want] you to think that if you exert more pressure, Iran will tolerate it. Do not make Iran withdraw from the talks, and do not make it follow its nuclear path more speedily.'" http://t.uani.com/1NpZanw

The Hill: "Former CIA Director Michael Hayden said on Sunday that he worries Iran has more momentum than the U.S. heading into final talks over Tehran's nuclear arms research. 'I would actually fear that the Iranians have the upper hand right now,' Hayden told 'Fox News Sunday' host Chris Wallace. 'I would hope this is not the final round of talks,' he added. Hayden argued on Sunday that the proposed deal does not do enough for preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. 'We get them out of the penalty box for their nuclear activities,' Hayden said. 'Then they're free and empowered to do all their other activities in the region,' he added." http://t.uani.com/1U0GgYU

Congressional Action

Roll Call: "A Democratic senator who has led calls for stronger sanctions against Iran is joining Republicans skeptical of the country's intentions when it comes to the ongoing talks over nuclear capabilities. In a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry, Sen. Robert Menendez said the United States should step back from multinational nuclear negotiations with Iran. 'I am writing to express my grave concern about recent demands by Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and Iran's parliament rejecting critical elements of an agreement for a possible nuclear deal,' the New Jersey Democrat wrote. 'If Iran insists on these redlines in negotiations, then I strongly urge you to suspend negotiations rather than accept a bad deal with Iran.'" http://t.uani.com/1IGggt5

WSJ: "President Barack Obama, who narrowly eked out congressional approval of his trade agenda this week, again faces a skeptical Congress as his administration attempts to reach a final agreement to curb Iran's nuclear program. Lawmakers are expressing concerns over lingering unresolved issues, such as how much access inspectors will have to Iran's facilities, as negotiators approach a month's end deadline for a final agreement... Both Democrats and Republicans said this week their support for a deal would hinge on how negotiators resolve remaining sticking points, particularly how international inspectors will be able to verify Iran's compliance with any new requirements. 'There needs to be immediate access anywhere so that if the Iranians cheat, we can detect it,' said Rep. Eliot Engel of New York, the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. 'If that's not going to be the case-as we hear some rumors-then that's problematic for me.'" http://t.uani.com/1Jt3fsB

Human Rights

Reuters: "Relatives of a U.S. citizen jailed by Iran on spying charges in 2011 attended a nuclear summit in Vienna to call for his release. Amir Hekmati, a 31-year-old Iranian-American, was arrested by Iranian authorities and convicted of espionage, a charge his relatives and the United States deny. An initial death sentence was commuted to a 10-year prison term. This was appealed last November, but the case has stagnated since then, family members say. 'We want to ... put pressure on these talks and to make sure that Amir has to be a priority,' the prisoner's sister, Sarah Hekmati, told Reuters on the sidelines of the meeting in Vienna." http://t.uani.com/1InK5Db

Domestic Politics

NYT: "The red lights of the state television cameras blinked on and he started speaking. He praised the Iranian negotiating team as great patriots and wise men. Then he reversed field, specifying seven 'red lines' for the negotiators, strictures that appeared to undercut several of the central agreements they had already reached with the West. Afterward, most in the audience were confused, friend and foe. Did Iran's leader just derail the talks by making impossible demands days before the June 30 deadline to reach a deal? Or, more likely, was he trying to strengthen the hand of his representatives in the negotiations? Whatever the interpretation, it was a classic performance by Mr. Khamenei, part of a strategy of ambiguity that analysts say he has followed for more than a decade on the tortuous path to a nuclear deal that, if achieved on his terms, would crown his legacy. 'Our leader deliberately takes ambiguous stances, because our enemies, including the United States, constantly shift their positions,' said Hossein Ghayyoumi, a cleric and politician who supports a nuclear deal. 'In politics, details and red lines can shift from time to time.' This ambiguity serves multiple purposes. In Iran's opaque political system, the supreme leader presides over a spectrum of factions all vying for power, influence and money. By weaving back and forth - praising the 'patriotism' of the nuclear negotiators, for instance, while drawing 'red lines' in the negotiations - he keeps the moderate opposition happy while placating the hard-liners in the clergy and the military." http://t.uani.com/1JjGwwg

Reuters: "A final deal to resolve the Iranian nuclear dispute could heighten domestic political tensions with two major elections looming in the Islamic Republic, analysts and officials said. Easing economic sanctions if a deal is reached will bolster President Hassan Rouhani's position within Iran's complex power structure bringing a political boost for liberal candidates in 2016 elections for parliament and for the Assembly of Experts, a clerical body with nominal power over the supreme leader. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the final say on all matters of state, has backed Rouhani's efforts to pursue a nuclear settlement and his dealings with the United States so as to improve the parlous state of Iran's economy. But Khamenei, who took over in 1989 from the founder of the Islamic Republic late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, has also worked to ensure that no group, including among his own hardline allies, gains enough power to challenge him. Khamenei will not want pragmatist President Rouhani to gain too much power and influence ahead of the important elections, an Iranian official said. 'The leader has always made sure not to give too much authority to any official because it will damage the political establishment,' said the official, who asked not to be named." http://t.uani.com/1C1uqs2

Reuters: "Iran's judicial system must become more transparent and political crimes should be clearly defined, President Hassan Rouhani said on Sunday, in some of his strongest comments on domestic reform since taking office. The president, elected in 2013 with a promise to enact social reforms and create a more open political environment, has so far seen his efforts thwarted by powerful conservative factions, particularly in the judiciary. Speaking at a televised judicial conference in Tehran, Rouhani called for more transparency in the prosecution of so-called political and security crimes that have seen large numbers of Iranian activists and journalists put behind bars. 'I hope we can define and codify political crimes during this government, with the cooperation of the judiciary, and put forward and approve a bill so it is clear what is a political or security crime,' he said. Rouhani also took aim at the judiciary's sometimes capricious application of other laws, a phenomenon that frequently disrupts daily life in Iran. 'Our judicial system must be transparent for everyone... even if the law is transparent, our judicial processes must also be transparent and accessible to the people,' Rouhani said. 'We can see that a single law can have many interpretations, and the judge can make his own presumptions when he delivers a verdict.'" http://t.uani.com/1Hq1udE

AFP: "A cultural row in Iran over concerts being cancelled was reignited Sunday when the country's judiciary chief appeared to criticise President Hassan Rouhani's liberal remarks on the subject... Rouhani, addressing the subject on June 13, said that if a concert is officially approved and people buy tickets their plans should not be disrupted. 'Such interventions are a violation of people's rights,' he said... However, Sadegh Larijani, who heads up the judiciary responsible for prosecuting crime and administering courts, seemed to undercut Rouhani in a speech Sunday attended by the president. 'I was sorry to hear somewhere a cleric say that banning these concerts was against the people's rights,' said Larijani, who like Rouhani is also a cleric. 'This is really surprising. One of the rights of the people is that things should not be against Islamic rules.' Having said the issue had been overblown by the media, given nine concerts out of 300 had been stopped since late March, Larijani went further in what seemed to be thinly-veiled criticism of Rouhani. 'Second and more important is that some executive officials of the country have an improper understanding and they say that if we have given a permit then no one has the right to revoke it,' Larijani said. 'Well, this is wrong. The judiciary has responsibilities regarding forbidden conduct. Revoking of permissions is dependent on the law.'" http://t.uani.com/1g2dK9L

Foreign Affairs

AP: "After two years of high-pressure gatherings, a sense of predictability has emerged in the negotiations between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. Neither is letting the pressure show even as they and other global powers are at the cusp of an agreement that could redefine security in the Middle East and beyond for decades to come. Just a short while ago, a snapshot alone of these two enemies engaged in discussions on nuclear and other matters would have been a bombshell felt in capitals around the world. Now, whether or not the U.S. and its negotiating powers can clinch a pact in Austria's capital over the next several days, it's hard to imagine the tentative U.S.-Iranian rapprochement ending anytime soon. It's become the new normal." http://t.uani.com/1IGaqIq

Reuters: "Venezuela has signed an agreement with Iran for a $500 million credit line to fund joint investments and help improve supplies of goods 'necessary for the Venezuelan people,' President Nicolas Maduro said on Friday... 'We've signed (an agreement for) an open credit for $500 million that will begin to function immediately,' Maduro said during a televised address following a meeting with an Iranian delegation." http://t.uani.com/1Hsu3sK

Opinion & Analysis

Ray Takeyh in WashPost: "As the nuclear negotiations between Iran and the United States enter their final stages, one of the most salient questions that should be considered is how the Islamic Republic would spend the billions of dollars it would receive as a result of an accord. Proponents of a deal insist that Iran will funnel much of this newfound wealth into its depleted economy. By their telling, even during dire economic times Iran prioritized funding for its malign activities and thus doesn't need to steer new money in their direction. Such a curious justification overlooks how Iran's regional policies, and its internal dynamics, are undergoing momentous changes. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei stands as one of the most successful Persian imperialists in the history of modern Iran. In the 1970s, at the height of his power, the shah did not enjoy a commanding influence in Iraq. Lebanon's factional politics continued to elude him, the Assad dynasty was no mere subsidiary of Iran and the Persian Gulf emirates resisted his pretensions. Today, Khamenei has essential control of much of the Iraqi state, he is the most important external actor in Syria, and Hezbollah provides him with not just a means of manipulating Lebanon's politics but also shock troops who can be deployed on various war fronts. In the Gulf, the United States' crumbling alliances offer Iran many tempting opportunities. Proponents of the view that Iran will not become a more aggressive regional power in the aftermath of a deal ignore how the Middle East has evolved since the Arab awakenings of 2011. The post-colonial Arab state system that featured the dominant nations of Egypt and Iraq is no more. Egypt is too preoccupied with internal squabbles to offer regional leadership while Iraq is a fragmented nation ruled by a Shiite government ostracized from Sunni Arab councils. Iran has embarked on a dramatic new mission and is seeking to project its power into corners of the Middle East in ways that were never possible before. This is not traditional Iranian foreign policy with its sponsorship of terrorism and support for rejectionist groups targeting Israel; imperialism beckons the mullahs, but it is also economically burdensome. Without an arms control agreement and the financial rewards it will bring - from sanctions relief, the release of funds entrapped abroad and new investments - Iran would find it difficult to subsidize this imperial surge... The much-discussed terms of the impending agreement with Iran thus offer the theocracy all that it wants. The accord would concede a vast enrichment capacity, as well as accepting both a heavy water plant and a well-fortified underground enrichment facility that the United States once vowed to shutter. It would permit an elaborate research and development program and would likely rely on an inspection regime that falls short of indispensable 'anytime, anywhere' access. In the meantime, the sanctions architecture will be diminished, and the notion of ever 'snapping back' sanctions into place once they are lifted is delusional. And because the agreement itself would be term-limited, there would be no practical limits on Iran's nuclear ambitions upon its expiration. However, as disturbing as all this may be, the most important legacy of the prospective agreement many not even lie in the nuclear realm. The massive financial gains from the deal would enable the Islamic Republic's imperial surge while allowing a repressive regime that was on the brink of collapse in 2009 to consolidate power. This would be no small achievement for Iran's emboldened rulers." http://t.uani.com/1RLQ45j

Reps. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), Brian Higgins (D-N.Y.), Grace Meng (D-N.Y.) & Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.) in The Hill: "As members of the New York congressional delegation, we have always been committed to working across the aisle and doing what's best for all New Yorkers. But there is one issue that brings us together even more than others: preventing Iran from developing a nuclear weapons capability. National security transcends party politics, and a nuclear Iran would pose a grave national security concern to the United States as well as to our allies around the world. or decades, Iran has illicitly pursued a nuclear weapon while simultaneously lying to the international community and cheating on its international non-proliferation obligations. We must be under no illusions that Iran will be become a trustworthy member of the family of nations with the signing of a pen. As the U.S. works to finalize an agreement with Iran in the coming weeks, we must be mindful of the ramifications of any agreement that is less than ironclad. For an agreement to truly cut off Iran's path to a nuclear weapon, it must include a rigorous inspections and verification regime that gives international inspectors access to potential nuclear sites without approval from Iran. We have serious concerns with numerous elements of this possible agreement. The agreement should mandate that Iran disclose its past military-related nuclear activities. Without this information, it is impossible to know the real length of Iran's break out time or to create an accurate verification mechanism. Another key element is slow, phased in sanctions relief that is commensurate with Iran's compliance. A potential 'signing bonus' would provide Iran with a flood of cash before it begins to implement the agreement. Iran does not deserve the benefit of the doubt given its history of violating international obligations and pursuing a nuclear weapons program illicitly. It remains the world's biggest state sponsor of terrorism. Iran is bankrolling Hezbollah, the brutal Assad regime in Syria, the Houthi rebels in Yemen, and other terrorist organizations that threaten the U.S. and our allies around the world. Finally, an agreement should ensure that Iran's enrichment facilities and heavy water reactor are not simply turned off, but rather, substantially degraded and disabled. Without doing so, it would be akin to giving a convicted murderer an unloaded gun and simply stashing the bullets in the closet... The national security of the U.S. and our allies and regional stability must not be turned into a political issue. Preventing Iran from developing a nuclear weapon is vital to all New Yorkers and all Americans. We will review any agreement submitted to Congress through the lens of what is best for New York and what is best for America." http://t.uani.com/1eV6ZXd

Mike Rogers & Arthur L. Herman in NRO: "'We welcome war with the U.S., as we believe that it will be the scene for our success to display the real potentials of our power.' So said Brigadier General Hossein Salami, the lieutenant commander of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), via state-run Iranian television last month. What makes Salami so confident about going up against the world's most extensive military? Maybe it's the increasing clout of IRGC's elite terrorist division, the Quds Force, in the Middle East, including its very public involvement in the fighting against ISIS in Iraq - as America's influence lessens in that conflict. Eight years ago, the Quds Force was killing Americans in Iraq. Now the administration is on the brink of a deal with Iran that will give that brutal and shadowy group the green light to expand its export of the Iranian revolution under the protection of a nuclear umbrella. There is a growing consensus among Democratic as well as Republican lawmakers - not to mention the rest of the world - that the Obama administration is set to make a very bad deal on Iran's ongoing nuclear-weapons program... Yet the implications of allowing Iran to continue its nuclear program go beyond triggering runaway nuclear proliferation among Arab states in the region. It will also empower the operatives of Quds Force to continue to expand their bloody activities, as we sit on the sidelines. The Quds Force is the secretive spearhead of Iran's push for hegemony in the Middle East. Named after the Arabic word for Jerusalem, it is part intelligence service and part special operations. It has been training and equipping Islamic revolutionary groups around the Middle East for decades, and it is responsible for some of the most notorious terrorist acts in the world. It has been a key trainer and sponsor of Hamas and Hezbollah in their ongoing fight to destroy Israel and murder Jews. In 1994, for example, the Quds Force helped to plan and finance an attack by Hezbollah on a Jewish center in Buenos Aires that killed 85 people. Then, following U.S. operations in Iraq in 2003, the Quds Force quickly moved in to finance, train, and equip counterinsurgency groups, both Shiite and Sunni, to kill Americans. In fact, the Quds Force played a key role in the expansion of the use of IEDs against Americans in Iraq in 2004-5. Many of those weapons had parts manufactured in Iran. Hundreds of American deaths in the Iraq War can be traced directly to Iran, the IRGC, and the Quds Force... President Obama himself had accused the Quds Force of helping Bashar Assad crush the demonstrations that broke out against his regime during the Arab Spring - not to mention the terrorist group's murderous role in the ongoing Syrian civil war as described by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. This is what the Quds Force is capable of without the protection of a nuclear weapon. Imagine what they would do with the security guarantee that comes with that ultimate deterrent, without fear of reprisal from the West or other Arab states. Yet the administration seems to be blind to the threat, or to be examining the nuclear program separately from the rest of Iran's foreign policy. Just a month ago the administration ordered our military to conduct air-support operations for the forces fighting in Iraq's Tikrit - Shiite militias led by the Quds Force's top commander. Now it may have to send in American planes in support of those same militias in the campaign to retake Ramadi. Asking U.S. pilots to risk their lives to help the Quds Force, in any capacity, is a sad change given Iran's role in the deaths of so many of our fighting men and women. Giving this terrorist group a nuclear umbrella, and by extension an inviolate base from which to plan, train for, and finance attacks, poses a direct danger to the region and the world. It is one more reason why the current nuclear deal the administration seems so desperate to get needs to be scrapped." http://t.uani.com/1C1J9mP