Friday, May 20, 2016
Saturday Politics : Iran, Banks, ICBMs, and Ted Cruz
Saturday Politics this week is about weaknesses already evident in the Iran nuclear deal. Iran complains it's not getting agreed economic benefits, so Secretary of State John Kerry met in London last week with EU bankers to clarify rules for doing business with Iran : "We want to make it clear that legitimate business, which is clear under the definition of the agreement, is available to banks. As long as they do their normal due diligence and know who they're dealing with, they're not going to be held to some undefined and inappropriate standard..." Kerry met with British foreign minister Philip Hammond and leaders of Europe’s largest banks, including Deutsche Bank, Barclays, and HSBC. Hammond called the meeting "important." But, Stuart Levey, HSBC chief legal officer, said HSBC will not do business in Iran, despite Kerry reassurances, because Iran remains a violator of too many financial and legal norms. Levey -- US Treasury undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence under Presidents George W. Bush and Obama -- said in a Wall Street Journal op-ed : "HSBC has no intention of doing any new business involving Iran. Governments can lift sanctions, but the private sector is still responsible for managing its own risk and no doubt will be held accountable if it falls short." The deal was supposed to release tens of billions of Iranian dollars frozen in foreign banks, but it didn't end US sanctions for other Iranian activities -- supporting terrorism, developing ICBMs and human rights violations. The US Supreme Court has ruled that victims of Iran-sponsored terrorism can collect reparations from $2 billion in Iranian assets frozen in US banks. And, the US recently placed new sanctions on Iran over ICBM tests it says violate the nuclear deal. US sanctions and seizures of Iranian assets make world banks fear violating US laws, because they all use the US financial system. ~~~~~ USA TODAY reported last week that Iran's defense minister denied an Iranian media report about the military's recent test of an ICBM with pinpoint accuracy at 1,250 miles -- that would include Israel and some Middle East nations. Defense Minister Brigadier General Dehqan denied his deputy chief of staff's published statement that Iran's missile test two weeks ago was accurate to within 25 feet, which he described as zero error. Dehqan denied a missile test of that distance had occurred, saying the US and Saudi Arabia are using propaganda to make the world believe Iran's missiles are not defensive. ~~~~~ But, two months ago, Iran tested two ICBMs, one with "Israel should be wiped off the Earth" written on it in Hebrew. Iran also conducted a missile test in November. But, it rejects claims that missile tests violate the nuclear deal or a UN resolution, saying its missiles are conventional, for "legitimate defense," and not designed for nuclear warheads. Apparently, Obama agreed with Iran not to address missiles in the deal itself. The UN Security Council lifted its ban on missile tests when the deal was final, but passed a resolution that "calls upon Iran not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles...including launches using such ballistic missile technology." The Security Council Panel of Experts on Iran later said in a confidential paper, reported by Reuters, that the March launches did violate the UN resolution. ~~~~~ Dear readers, before it was agreed, President Obama said the alternative to the Iran deal was war. Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu disagreed : "The alternative to this bad deal is not war, but rather going back to the negotiating table and getting a better deal.” But, it was Senator Ted Cruz, at a September 2015 rally, who nailed the dilemma of those following Obama down the Iran rabbit hole : "Any bank that listens to this President and releases billions to an international terrorist like Ayatollah Khamenei will face billions in damages in civil liability and litigation. And there will come a President who is not Barack Obama." Amen, Senator Cruz, Amen.