Story 1: Chinese ships caught shipping oil to North Korea — After Winter Olympics Eliminate North Korea and Islamic Republic of Iran Nuclear and Missile Threats — Videos

Posted on December 28, 2017. Filed under: American History, Articles, Blogroll, Books, British History, Chinese, Communications, Congress, conservatives, Corruption, Crisis, Cult, Culture, Diet, Documentary, Economics, Elections, Employment, European History, Family, Farming, Food, Foreign Policy, Freedom, Genocide, government spending, Health, history, Law, Life, Links, media, Newspapers, People, Philosophy, Photos, Politics, Radio, Rants, Raves, Regulations, Talk Radio, Taxation, Taxes, Trade, Video | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

 Story 1: Chinese ships caught shipping oil to North Korea — After Winter Olympics Eliminate North Korea and Islamic Republic of Iran Nuclear and Missile Threats — VideosSee the source imageSee the source imageSee the source imageSee the source imageSee the source imageSee the source imageSee the source imageImage result for china ships oil to north korea See the source image

Report: Chinese ships caught selling oil to North Korea

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Is China secretly selling oil to Kim Jong-un? US satellites ‘have spotted Beijing tankers transferring fuel to North Korean ships 30 times in three months’ despite UN trade embargo

  • Satellite images ‘show Chinese and North Korean ships tied together off China’
  • South Korea claims there have been 30 such transactions in just three months 
  • Such trades are banned under a UN resolution adopted in September this year

US satellites have spotted Chinese tankers transferring oil to North Korean ships 30 times in three months – despite strict UN trade embargoes, it has been claimed.

Overhead images appear to show ships from the two countries shackled together for a fuel transfer in the West Sea off China.

Such ship-to-ship trades are banned under a UN Security Council resolution adopted in September.

But according to South Korean government sources, American satellites have pictured large vessels from both China and North Korea illegally trading in a stretch of the West Sea on multiple occasions.

US satellites have spotted Chinese tankers transferring oil to North Korean ships 30 times in three months - despite strict UN trade embargoes, it has been claimed. One picture (above), reportedly taken on October 19, shows a ship called Ryesonggang 1 connected to a Chinese vessel in the West Sea off China

One picture, reportedly taken on October 19, shows a ship called Ryesonggang 1 connected to a Chinese vessel, The Chosun Ilbo reports.

The US Treasury Department later placed six North Korean shipping and trading companies and 20 of their vessels on sanctions list.

It said the activity appeared to show attempts to bypass sanctions, though it has not been suggested that Chinese authorities were aware of the transactions.

Cai Jian, an expert on North Korea at Fudan University in Shanghai, said: ‘This is a natural outcome of the tightening of the various sanctions against North Korea.

The tightening ‘reflects China’s stance’, he said.

Professor of political science at the Pusan National University in South Korea told the Telegraph the reports were easily believable.

He said: ‘There is a lot of under-the-radar on the Chinese side. Beijing does not police the border strictly or enforce the sanctions toughly. This could be that.’

It comes a day after Chinese customs data was revealed claiming Beijing exported no oil products to North Korea in November.

The figures apparently go above and beyond sanctions imposed earlier this year by the United Nations in a bid to limit petroleum shipments to the isolated country.

Tensions have flared anew over North Korea’s ongoing nuclear and missile programmes, pursued in defiance of years of U.N. resolutions. Last week, the U.N. Security Council imposed new caps on trade with North Korea, including limiting oil product shipments to just 500,000 barrels a year.

Beijing also imported no iron ore, coal or lead from North Korea in November, the second full month of the latest trade sanctions imposed by U.N.

China, the main source of North Korea’s fuel, did not export any gasoline, jet fuel, diesel or fuel oil to its isolated neighbour last month, data from the General Administration of Customs showed on Tuesday.

Sanctions have been placed on Kim Jong-un's secretive nation after he accelerated his nuclear and missile programmes

Sanctions have been placed on Kim Jong-un’s secretive nation after he accelerated his nuclear and missile programmes

November was the second straight month China exported no diesel or gasoline to North Korea. The last time China’s jet fuel shipments to Pyongyang were at zero was in February 2015.

‘This is a natural outcome of the tightening of the various sanctions against North Korea,’ said Cai Jian, an expert on North Korea at Fudan University in Shanghai.

The tightening ‘reflects China’s stance’, he said.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said she didn’t know any details about the oil products export situation.

‘As a principle, China has consistently fully, correctly, conscientiously and strictly enforced relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions on North Korea. We have already established a set of effective operating mechanisms and methods,’ she said at a regular briefing on Tuesday, without elaborating.

Since June, state-run China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) has suspended sales of gasoline and diesel to North Korea, concerned that it would not get paid for its goods, Reuters previously reported.

Beijing’s move to turn off the taps completely is rare.

In March 2003, China suspended oil supplies to North Korea for three days after Pyongyang fired a missile into waters between the Korean Peninsula and Japan.

It is unknown if China still sells crude oil to Pyongyang. Beijing has not disclosed its crude exports to North Korea for several years.

Industry sources say China still supplies about 520,000 tonnes, or 3.8 million barrels, of crude a year to North Korea via an aging pipeline. That is a little more than 10,000 barrels a day, and worth about $200 million a year at current prices.

North Korea also sources some of its oil from Russia.

Chinese exports of corn to North Korean in November also slumped, down 82 percent from a year earlier to 100 tonnes, the lowest since January. Exports of rice plunged 64 percent to 672 tonnes, the lowest since March.

Trade between North Korea and China has slowed through the year, particularly after China banned coal purchases in February. In November, China’s trade with North Korea totalled $388 million, one of the lowest monthly volumes this year.

China has renewed its call on all countries to make constructive efforts to ease tensions on the Korean peninsula, urging the use of peaceful means to resolve issues.

But tensions flared again after North Korea on Nov. 29 said it had tested a new intercontinental ballistic missile that put the U.S. mainland within range of its nuclear weapons.

Meanwhile Chinese exports of liquefied petroleum gas to North Korea, used for cooking, rose 58 percent in November from a year earlier to 99 tonnes. Exports of ethanol, which can be turned into a biofuel, gained 82 percent to 3,428 cubic metres.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5214787/China-ships-selling-oil-sanction-hit-North-Korea.html#ixzz52boFYOhA

 

Where The North Korean Crisis Meets The Iran Nuclear Deal

 Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

This article was originally published at Stratfor.com.

By Reva Goujon

By virtue of its military might, the United States has the unique ability to quickly — and credibly — place its most intractable adversaries under existential threat. Command over the world’s most powerful military gives a country options, and the option of regime change can be a tempting one for Washington as it tries to work through some of its more maddening foreign policy dilemmas.

A government living under the constant, lurking threat of decapitation does not particularly enjoy stewing in its own paranoia over what social fissures its enemies can exploit, which allies they can turn and what chain of events could finally push the United States into action. That’s why a nuclear deterrent is such an alluring prospect: What better way to kill your adversaries’ fantasy of regime change than to stand with them as near-equals on a nuclear plane?

This is North Korea’s rationale as the country closes in on demonstrating that it has a fully functional nuclear weapon and delivery arsenal. But Washington’s nuclear dilemma doesn’t end with Pyongyang. Whether Tehran attempts to return to its treacherous path toward nuclear armament rests in large part on just how seriously the White House entertains and attempts to execute a policy of regime change.

Preventing Another North Korea

North Korea is set to prove to the world that it has attained a nuclear deterrent. With the Nov. 29 test of its longest-range intercontinental ballistic missile yet — and plenty more demonstrations to come in the months ahead — the country is on track to show that it could field a reliable, nuclear-armed intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the United States and that it has the arsenal necessary to weather a first strike. The window to launch a preventive strike on North Korea is rapidly closing. And in turn, the odds are growing that the United States, along with the countries in and around the Korean Peninsula, will have to accept the reality of a nuclear-armed North Korea and prepare instead for a pre-emptive strike in case Pyongyang decides to launch an attack.

The result will be a new and unstable pattern of nuclear deterrence in the 21st century, one in which the unique challenges of communicating with the North Korean government will leave the door open to potential miscalculations. More Cold War-era arms agreements that rest on reliable communication among nuclear peers will come under threat. China and Russia, after all, fear that the irreversible buildup of the United States’ ballistic missile defense network will undermine their own strategic deterrents and will have less incentive to abide by obsolete arms pacts as a result. Despite continued calls for diplomacy to bring Pyongyang to the table and somehow prevent North Korea from crossing the nuclear Rubicon, the chances are slim that Kim Jong Un’s administration will trust a last-ditch negotiation. No amount of security guarantees from the United States will persuade Pyongyang that Washington, its allies or even Beijing has wholly abandoned their designs for regime change. Furthermore, Kim has commissioned an assassination campaign with global reach to ensure that any potential alternatives to his rule are eliminated early on. With its survival on the line, North Korea has an existential commitment to achieve its nuclear objectives.

The United States is weighing the risks of carrying out a preventive military campaign to avoid entering the dangerous new global order. But the associated costs of starting a war in Northeast Asia and plunging the world into recession make this scenario less likely. Even though he inherited a near-impossible timeline to neutralize the threat, U.S. President Donald Trump won’t take kindly to North Korea fulfilling its nuclear ambitions on his watch. When the time comes to reckon with this reality, his administration will probably reframe the issue as the product of decades of negligent and ineffective policy. The president will then set his sights on Iran, vowing to avoid a repeat of such a colossal failure in U.S. foreign policy.

In fact, the effort to shift attention from North Korea to Iran has been underway for some time. Trump has made clear that he sees the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) — the deal his predecessor, along with four other countries, made with Iran to deter it from pursuing nuclear capabilities — as flimsy and wholly insufficient. The U.S. administration, moreover, has expressed its frustration that the deal’s terms inhibit the imposition of economic sanctions in response to other threats from Iran. By decertifyng the JCPOA, Trump meant to send the message that he was serious about confronting the Islamic republic. To strike a deal in the first place, the previous administration and the JCPOA’s other signatories had to focus negotiations solely on Iran’s nuclear program, setting aside broader problems, such as Tehran’s covert support for militant proxies, its development of ballistic missiles and its alleged human rights abuses. The International Atomic Energy Agency and the JCPOA’s other parties affirm that Iran is upholding its end of the agreement. Yet the current occupants of the White House have used infractions unrelated to the deal, such as ballistic missile testing, to blur the JCPOA’s terms and justify reintroducing sanctions.

Iran Recalculates

Consequently, Iran will have much to contemplate in the coming year as it weighs the pros and cons of abiding by the JCPOA. Compared with North Korea, Iran sees a nuclear deterrent as more of a luxury than a strict necessity. Iran’s reliance on global energy trade, its heavy exposure to intelligence oversight from hawkish neighbors like Israel and its people’s ability to channel economic discontent into political change make its pursuit of nuclear arms more perilous. At the same time, the country’s layered political structure, formidable security apparatus, challenging terrain and ability to disrupt traffic in the Strait of Hormuz offer it useful insulation against its adversaries’ attempts to bring down the clerical government. In addition, Iran’s influence across the Middle East gives it leverage with the United States. Either by helping U.S. interests, for example in the fight against the Islamic State, or by hindering them — through threatening maritime vessels or backing militant proxies against U.S. allies — Tehran can influence its dealings with Washington. These factors led Iran to conclude that it could strike a bargain with the United States over its nuclear program to get economic reprieve from sanctions and reduce the potential for a military conflict in the Persian Gulf.

But the JCPOA wasn’t just about the nuclear program. Implicit in the framework was a deeper understanding between Washington and Tehran. Both sides understood there would remain a number of points of contention between them as they competed in proxy battlegrounds across the region. Still, in signing the deal, the United States was downgrading the potential for conflict in the Gulf region, thereby signaling to Tehran that it was taking any earlier plans for regime change off the table.

Now, in trying to directly discredit the JCPOA, the Trump administration risks stripping away those security guarantees and putting Iran back in an existential mindset that could push it onto the nuclear path once more.

A spate of leaks and acknowledgments from the U.S. president himself over the past year have revealed Trump’s disdain for anyone trying to block his Iran agenda and his respect for hawks on Iran policy. (The former group includes Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, while the latter category includes U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley, CIA Director Mike Pompeo and Sen. Tom Cotton, who has been rumored to be next in line to head the CIA should Trump decide to replace Tillerson with Pompeo.) The more frustrated he becomes with the North Korean dilemma, the more energy the U.S. president has put into lining up loyalists to try to limit interference in his agenda for Iran. Two key figures in the Middle East have exerted heavy influence over that agenda: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The two leaders, in fact, are so eager for the opportunity to shape a more aggressive U.S. policy toward Iran that they are downplaying their animosity for each other and collaborating in the open.

Iran’s leaders will now have to assess how far the U.S.-Saudi-Israeli triumvirate will go in trying to contain their country. Iran still has the benefit of a strong European defense for the JCPOA. The White House would risk a major confrontation with the Continent’s powers were it to attempt to unilaterally end sanctions waivers and reinstate secondary sanctions on foreign firms doing business with Iran. And enforcing additional sanctions would be difficult without buy-in from Iran’s main trading partners. With that in mind, Tehran will probably take care in the coming months to avoid blatantly violating the JCPOA and driving the Europeans back to the United States’ side on sanctions — even as a growing competition with Washington emboldens Iran’s hard-line politicians. At the same time, Tehran will look for ways to strengthen its burgeoning relationship with Russia to counterbalance the U.S.-Saudi-Israeli alliance.

Even if the framework of the JCPOA survives, however tenuously, Iran will still be on alert for other aggressive U.S.-backed efforts to destabilize its political system. After all, if the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia believe that the nuclear deal is fundamentally flawed and that they must compel Tehran back to the negotiating table, they’ll need to find ways to credibly threaten the Iranian government’s continued existence. Iran will be on the lookout for a range of threats, from a concerted military campaign against its Lebanese proxy militia, Hezbollah, to a cyberattack on its critical infrastructure to covert efforts to sow sedition in the Islamic republic. And even if the United States could coerce Iran to renegotiate the nuclear deal, Washington’s reputation for honoring that kind of pact is already deep in question. Agreeing to abandon the quest for nuclear weapons didn’t save Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, as Pyongyang and Tehran well know.

Overturning the JCPOA will compound the challenges the United States faces in finding diplomatic solutions to nuclear-sized problems. Moreover, a nuclear-armed North Korea would only complicate matters further. The cash-strapped country may find its coveted deterrent to be a lucrative asset in a pinch. And should the United States convince Iran of the JCPOA’s impending demise, Pyongyang may have a willing customer in Tehran.

The Luxury of Distance

Trump’s more assertive stance toward Iran isn’t an anomaly in U.S. foreign policy. Since the JCPOA took effect — a milestone that was arguably necessary to reduce the threat of military conflict in the Persian Gulf and to freeze Iran’s nuclear program — the Islamic republic’s economic recovery and re-engagement with the West has threatened to upset the balance of power in the Middle East. Iran, free from the fetters of sanctions, suddenly had more energy and resources to throw into its proxy battles in the region, at the expense of critical Sunni powers. The United States, in turn, was bound to shore up support for its Sunni allies and seek out new ways to keep Iran contained, regardless of who was conducting policy in the White House.

Even so, there is such thing as an overcorrection in policymaking. Trump’s willingness to wholeheartedly endorse the Saudi plan for cutting Iran back down to size sets him apart from his political contemporaries and predecessors. Along with trying to discredit the JCPOA, the U.S. administration has backed Riyadh’s short-sighted campaigns to isolate Qatar and to try to force a Saudi agenda down the Lebanese government’s throat. These moves, all sorely lacking in subtlety, at times suggest an ideological bent to target Iran at any cost.

But the United States doesn’t have to shoulder the historical baggage and the centuries of animosity that drive competition in the Middle East. It has the luxury of distance, from which it can manipulate the balance of power at will. In other words, while Israel and Saudi Arabia perceive Iran to be an existential threat, the same may not be true for the United States. Its removal from the situation gives Washington the space to manage Iran through a more assertive policy of strategic containment that stops short of reintroducing the menace of regime change and thus keeps the country from having to resort to more extreme measures. Therein lies the difference between strategic and ideological policymaking. As the North Korea conundrum gives rise to a more precarious age of nuclear deterrence, that difference will matter all the more.

This article was originally published by Stratfor Worldview, a leading geopolitical intelligence platform and advisory firm based in Austin, Texas.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/stratfor/2017/12/07/where-the-north-korean-crisis-meets-the-iran-nuclear-deal/#56ded7c9e9a6

Scoop: U.S. and Israel reach joint plan to counter Iran

Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu shake hands after delivering a speech during a visit to the Israel Museum on May 23, 2017 in Jerusalem, Israel. Photo: Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images

The U.S. and Israel have reached a joint strategic work plan to counter Iranian activity in the Middle East. U.S. and Israeli officials said the joint understandings were reached in a secret meeting between senior Israeli and U.S. delegations at the White House on December 12th.

What it means: A senior U.S. official said that after two days of talks the U.S. and Israel reached at a joint document which included understandings on countering Iranian actions in the region. The U.S. official said the document goal’s was to translate President Trump’s Iran speech to joint U.S.-Israeli strategic goals regarding Iran and to set up a joint work plan.

At the table: The Israeli team was headed by national security adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat and included senior representatives of the Israeli military, Ministry of Defense, Foreign Ministry and intelligence community. The U.S. side was headed by national security adviser H.R. McMaster and included senior representatives from the National Security Council, State Department, Department of Defense and the intelligence community.

As part of the understandings that were reached the U.S. and Israel decided to form several working groups according to the joint goals:
  1. Covert and diplomatic action to block Iran’s path to nuclear weapons – according to the U.S. official this working group will deal with diplomatic steps that can be taken as part of the Iran nuclear deal to further monitor and verify that Iran is not violating the deal. It also includes diplomatic steps outside of the nuclear deal to put more pressure on Iran. The working group will deal with possible covert steps against the Iranian nuclear program.
  2. Countering Iranian activity in the region, especially the Iranian entrenchment efforts in Syria and the Iranian support for Hezbollah and other terror groups. This working group will also deal with drafting U.S.-Israeli policy regarding the “day after” in the Syrian civil war.
  3. Countering Iranian ballistic missiles development and the Iranian “precision project” aimed at manufacturing precision guided missiles in Syria and Lebanon for Hezbollah to be used against Israel in a future war.
  4. Joint U.S.-Israeli preparation for different escalation scenarios in the region concerning Iran, Syria, Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza.

Senior Israeli officials confirmed that the U.S. and Israel have arrived at strategic understandings regarding Iran that would strengthen the cooperation in countering regional challenges.

The Israeli officials said:

“[T]he U.S. and Israel see eye to eye the different developments in the region and especially those that are connected to Iran. We reached at understandings regarding the strategy and the policy needed to counter Iran. Our understandings deal with the overall strategy but also with concrete goals, way of action and the means which need to be used to get obtain those goals.”

https://www.axios.com/scoop-u-s-and-israel-reach-joint-plan-to-counter-iran-2520518565.html

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Hezbollah Drug Ring Not Pursued To Save Iran Nuclear Deal — Project/Operation Cassandra Stopped By Obama — Drug and Nuclear Proliferation Obama’s Appeasement of Radical Islamic Terrorism — Junk Journalism At Big Lie Media Ignored The Story –Videos

Posted on December 20, 2017. Filed under: American History, Articles, Blogroll, Business, College, Communications, Computers, Congress, conservatives, Constitution, Crime, Crisis, Documentary, Drug Cartels, Economics, Education, Elections, Employment, Energy, Essays, Family, Federal Government, Federal Government Budget, Fiscal Policy, Foreign Policy, Freedom, government spending, history, History of Economic Thought, Illegal, Immigration, Islam, Islam, Law, Legal, liberty, Life, Links, Literacy, media, Natural Gas, Natural Gas, Newspapers, Nuclear Power, Nuclear Proliferation, Oil, Oil, People, Philosophy, Photos, Police, Political Correctness, Politics, Radio, Rants, Raves, Raymond Thomas Pronk, Religion, Resources, Strategy, Talk Radio, Tax Policy, Television, Video, War | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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Hezbollah Drug Ring Not Pursued To Save Iran Nuclear Deal — Operation Cassandera Stopped By Obama — Drug and Nuclear Proliferation Obama’s Appeasement of Radical Islamic Terrorism — Videos

Politico: Obama Admin Blocked Efforts To Dismantle Hezbollah Drug Ring – Tucker Carlson

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Rush Limbaugh: Bombshell, that nobody will read: Obama let Hezbollah run cocaine into the U.S.

Mark Levin Show: Obama let Hezbollah run cocaine into U.S. to facilitate the Iran Deal getting done

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Rpt: Obama Blocked pursuit of Hezbolllah’s Drug Ring to protect Iran Deal – The Five

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Joe Lieberman: Iran deal was bad for America

Giuliani on Iran deal: I call that money laundering

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The secret backstory of how Obama let Hezbollah off the hook

An ambitious U.S. task force targeting Hezbollah’s billion-dollar criminal enterprise ran headlong into the White House’s desire for a nuclear deal with Iran.

PART I

A GLOBAL THREAT EMERGES

How Hezbollah turned to trafficking cocaine and laundering money through used cars to finance its expansion.

In its determination to secure a nuclear deal with Iran, the Obama administration derailed an ambitious law enforcement campaign targeting drug trafficking by the Iranian-backed terrorist group Hezbollah, even as it was funneling cocaine into the United States, according to a POLITICO investigation.

The campaign, dubbed Project Cassandra, was launched in 2008 after the Drug Enforcement Administration amassed evidence that Hezbollah had transformed itself from a Middle East-focused military and political organization into an international crime syndicate that some investigators believed was collecting $1 billion a year from drug and weapons trafficking, money laundering and other criminal activities.

Over the next eight years, agents working out of a top-secret DEA facility in Chantilly, Virginia, used wiretaps, undercover operations and informants to map Hezbollah’s illicit networks, with the help of 30 U.S. and foreign security agencies.

They followed cocaine shipments, some from Latin America to West Africa and on to Europe and the Middle East, and others through Venezuela and Mexico to the United States. They tracked the river of dirty cash as it was laundered by, among other tactics, buying American used cars and shipping them to Africa. And with the help of some key cooperating witnesses, the agents traced the conspiracy, they believed, to the innermost circle of Hezbollah and its state sponsors in Iran.

They followed cocaine shipments, tracked a river of dirty cash, and traced what they believed to be the innermost circle of Hezbollah and its state sponsors in Iran.

But as Project Cassandra reached higher into the hierarchy of the conspiracy, Obama administration officials threw an increasingly insurmountable series of roadblocks in its way, according to interviews with dozens of participants who in many cases spoke for the first time about events shrouded in secrecy, and a review of government documents and court records. When Project Cassandra leaders sought approval for some significant investigations, prosecutions, arrests and financial sanctions, officials at the Justice and Treasury departments delayed, hindered or rejected their requests.

The Justice Department declined requests by Project Cassandra and other authorities to file criminal charges against major players such as Hezbollah’s high-profile envoy to Iran, a Lebanese bank that allegedly laundered billions in alleged drug profits, and a central player in a U.S.-based cell of the Iranian paramilitary Quds force. And the State Department rejected requests to lure high-value targets to countries where they could be arrested.

December 15, 2011

Hezbollah is linked to a $483,142,568 laundering scheme

The money, allegedly laundered through the Lebanese Canadian Bank and two exchange houses, involved approximately 30 U.S. car buyers.

Read the document

“This was a policy decision, it was a systematic decision,” said David AsherDavid AsherVeteran U.S. illicit finance expert sent from Pentagon to Project Cassandra to attack the alleged Hezbollah criminal enterprise., who helped establish and oversee Project Cassandra as a Defense Department illicit finance analyst. “They serially ripped apart this entire effort that was very well supported and resourced, and it was done from the top down.”

https://www.politico.com/interactives/2017/obama-hezbollah-drug-trafficking-investigation/

Obama protected Hezbollah drug ring to save Iran nukes deal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Obama administration stymied a sprawling investigation into the terror group Hezbollah — and its highly lucrative drug- trafficking networks — to protect the Iran nuclear deal, according to a bombshell report.

A team at the Drug Enforcement Administration had been working for almost a decade to bring down the Iran-backed militant organization’s sophisticated $1 billion-a-year drug ring, which laundered money and smuggled cocaine into the United States, Politico reported.

But the departments of Justice and Treasury repeatedly undermined agents’ efforts to arrest and prosecute key members of the criminal network — because the Obama White House feared upsetting Tehran ahead of the nuclear agreement, according to Politico.

Former Treasury official Katherine Bauer even admitted in little-noticed testimony to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs last February that “under the Obama administration . . . these [Hezbollah-related] investigations were tamped down for fear of rocking the boat with Iran and jeopardizing the nuclear deal.”

When the Iran agreement took effect in January 2016, the investigation — dubbed Project Cassandra — was effectively dismantled.

“This was a policy decision, it was a systematic decision,” said David Asher, an expert in illicit finance who helped found the project. “They serially ripped apart this entire effort that was very well supported and resourced, and it was done from the top down.”

The task force worked for eight years out of a top-secret facility in Virginia, with the help of 30 American and foreign security agencies, to unravel the global crime syndicate that was funding Hezbollah’s jihadist operations.

Politico also reported that late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez was in cahoots with then-Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Hezbollah in cocaine trafficking and other activities meant to undermine US influence.

In 2007, Venezuela’s state-run Conviasa airline was ferrying drugs and cash from Caracas to Tehran via Syria each week, according to Politico.

DEA agents nicknamed the airline “Aeroterror” because the planes would come back carrying weapons, along with Hezbollah and Iranian operatives.

But the Obama administration never fought to have two major players in the scheme extradited to the United States to face charges when it had the opportunity, task force members charged.

Others the team sought to bring to justice were Abdallah Safieddine, Hezzbollah’s envoy to Tehran, and a shadowy operative nicknamed “Ghost,” whom it considered one of the biggest cocaine smugglers in the world.

“Hezbollah operates like the Gambino crime family on steroids, and [Safieddine] is its John Gotti,” ex-DEA agent Jack Kelly, who created the task force, told Politico. “Whatever Iran needs, Safieddine is in charge of getting it for them.”

Safieddine was ultimately linked to a massive drug-smuggling and money-laundering network allegedly led by Lebanese businessman Ayman Joumaa.

Agents discovered Joumaa had smuggled tons of cocaine into the States — then laundered $200 million a month by buying used cars from American dealers.

The cars were sent to Benin in West Africa, where satellite photos taken in 2015 showed rows upon rows of used cars in a lot.

But the Obama administration repeatedly thwarted efforts to prosecute Safieddine, Politico reported.

An Obama spokesman denied the operation was derailed for political reasons, noting several Hezbollah members were arrested.

Other administration officials suggested those involved were blind to the bigger picture.

“The world is a lot more complicated than viewed through the narrow lens of drug trafficking,” one official said. “So you’re not going to let CIA rule the roost, but you’re also certainly not going to let DEA do it either.”

https://nypost.com/2017/12/18/obama-protected-hezbollah-drug-ring-to-save-iran-nukes-deal/

Report: Obama ‘Derailed’ DEA Probe into Hezbollah in Latin America to Save Iran Deal

Former U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration “derailed” a DEA operation targeting Hezbollah’s multi-million-dollar drug trafficking activities in Latin America to secure approval of the controversial Iran nuclear deal, reports Politico.

Iran’s narco-terrorist proxy Hezbollah is involved in a plethora of criminal activities in Latin America, ranging from money laundering to massive drug trafficking.

“This was a policy decision, it was a systematic decision,” David Asher, a veteran Pentagon illicit finance expert deployed to combat the alleged Hezbollah criminal enterprise, told Politico, referring to the DEA operation, dubbed Project Cassandra. “They [Obama administration] serially ripped apart this entire effort that was very well supported and resourced, and it was done from the top down.”

For years, the U.S. military has been sounding the alarm on the threat against the United States posed by the presence of Iran and Hezbollah in America’s backyard — Latin America.

However, the Obama administration argued that Iran’s influence in the Western Hemisphere was “waning,” reported the Government Accountability Office (GAO), Congress’ watchdog arm, in late September 2014, months before world powers and Iran approved the nuclear deal in July 2015.

In its determination to secure a nuclear deal with Iran, the Obama administration derailed an ambitious law enforcement campaign targeting drug trafficking by the Iranian-backed terrorist group Hezbollah, even as it was funneling cocaine into the United States, according to a POLITICO investigation.

The campaign, dubbed Project Cassandra, was launched in 2008 after the Drug Enforcement Administration amassed evidence that Hezbollah had transformed itself from a Middle East-focused military and political organization into an international crime syndicate that some investigators believed was collecting $1 billion a year from drug and weapons trafficking, money laundering and other criminal activities.

Rep. Robert Pittenger (R-NC), the chairman of the Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare, chastised the Obama administration for undermining the DEA operation.

In a statement, Pittenger, the vice chairman of the House Financial Services Committee Task Force to Investigate Terrorism Financing, declared:

The nexus between terrorists organizations, including Hezbollah, and Latin American drug cartels is a subversive alliance which provides hundreds of millions of dollars to global jihad. “The witnesses providing account of the Obama administration derailing and stonewalling the prosecution of this illicit funding investigation has resulted in the most serious consequences of the misguided and injudicious actions of President Obama and his team.”

In June 2016, Michael Braun, a former DEA agent, told lawmakers that Hezbollah is generating hundreds of millions from a “cocaine money laundering scheme” in Latin America that “provides a never-ending source of funding” for its terrorist operations in the Middle East and elsewhere.

Iran has deployed thousands of Hezbollah militants to fight on behalf of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, a move that has allowed the ruthless leader to remain in power.

Both the U.S. military and State Department have warned against the menace that Hezbollah and Iran’s presence in Latin America represents.

Politico reveals:

As Project Cassandra reached higher into the hierarchy of the conspiracy, Obama administration officials threw an increasingly insurmountable series of roadblocks in its way, according to interviews with dozens of participants who in many cases spoke for the first time about events shrouded in secrecy, and a review of government documents and court records. When Project Cassandra leaders sought approval for some significant investigations, prosecutions, arrests and financial sanctions, officials at the Justice and Treasury departments delayed, hindered or rejected their requests.

The Justice Department declined requests by Project Cassandra and other authorities to file criminal charges against major players such as Hezbollah’s high-profile envoy to Iran, a Lebanese bank that allegedly laundered billions in alleged drug profits, and a central player in a U.S.-based cell of the Iranian paramilitary Quds force. And the State Department rejected requests to lure high-value targets to countries where they could be arrested.

Soon after U.S.-led world powers and Iran approved the nuclear pact, Obama predicted that Iran would use sanction relief funds to boost its terrorist proxies, namely Hezbollah, saying in August 2015:

Let’s stipulate that some of that money will flow to activities that we object to … Iran supports terrorist organizations like Hezbollah. It supports proxy groups that threaten our interests and the interests of our allies — including proxy groups who killed our troops in Iraq.

A day after the deal’s approval, Obama also said:

Do we think that with the sanctions coming down, that Iran will have some additional resources for its military and for some of the activities in the region that are a threat to us and a threat to our allies? I think that is a likelihood that they’ve got some additional resources. Do I think it’s a game-changer for them? No.

They are currently supporting Hezbollah, and there is a ceiling — a pace at which they could support Hezbollah even more, particularly in the chaos that’s taking place in Syria. So can they potentially try to get more assistance there? Yes.

According to the Jerusalem Post, Iran has dramatically increased its financial support to Hezbollah from $200 million to $800 million per year, two years after the nuclear deal was signed by Iran and world powers.

In 2010, John Brennan, Obama’s top counterterrorism adviser and then CIA director, confirmed that former president’s administration was trying to build up “moderate elements” within Iran’s terror proxy Hezbollah.

“Hezbollah is a very interesting organization,” Brennan told a Washington conference, saying it had evolved from “purely a terrorist organization” to a militia and, ultimately, a prominent Shiite political party in Lebanon, reported Reuters.

http://www.breitbart.com/national-security/2017/12/18/obama-sabotaged-dea-operation-targeting-hezbollah-in-latin-america-to-secure-iran-nuclear-deal/

Ex-CIA Adviser Denies Report That Obama Thwarted anti-Hezbollah Operation to Save Iran Deal
Brian O’Toole, who was a senior officer in the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control, calls the Politico report ‘a grand conspiracy led by Hezbollah’

Haaretz Dec 19, 2017 9:54 PM
read more: https://www.haaretz.com/us-news/1.829978

Obama administration reportedly shielded Hezbollah from DEA and CIA to save Iran nuclear deal
Nasrallah: Hezbollah to focus on Jerusalem, best response to Trump would be third intifada
Israeli intel minister to Saudi media: Israel can strike Iranian missile plants in Lebanon, ‘as is happening in Syria’

A former CIA adviser denied a Politico report in a series of tweets on Tuesday, calling it “a grand conspiracy led by Hezbollah.” According to the Monday report, the Obama administration thwarted a covert operation against the militant Lebanese group in order to save the Iran nuclear deal.
In a tweet, Brian O’Toole called Politico’s sources “malcontents” who turned to the press despite the fact that no one in the civil service agreed with them.
skip – Brian O’Toole Tweets
According to the Atlantic Council think tank, O’Toole was a CIA adviser and worked in the intelligence department of the Department of the Treasury from 2009 until this year, and then became senior members of the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control and a specialist on sanctions.

O’Toole wrote that he would be careful with what he reveals, because “unlike the many sources cited by name here, I actually intend to honor the non-disclosure agreement I signed with the CIA and treasury.”
“What this story and these people allege is a grand conspiracy led by Hezbollah. They’d have you believe it involved multiple world leaders and centers around Hezbollah actively trafficking in narcotics. They’ve based these assessments on classic analytical overreach, however,” added O’Toole.

According to Politico’s Monday report, the White House directly prevented actions by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to battle Hezbollah drugs and weapons trafficking operations in order to avoid hurting what was then a delicate emerging nuclear agreement with Iran.
“It disgusts me that they would go public with this conclusion because no one else in the career civil service would agree with them. These weren’t politicals at every turn, but seasoned analysts who knew much more than they did,” wrote O’Toole.

He added that in his opinion, the Politico report was possible due to the fact that the sources knew that they would receive “no rebuke” from the Trump administration, which he called “deparate to hammer Iran and unwilling to discuss classified info in public.”
He further said the report “may well end up helping Hezbollah.”

Other independent journalists have begun investigating into who the quoted sources are in the Politico report. One of them may be Katherine Bauer, who worked in the U.S. Ministry of the Treasury during the Obama Administration. The report quotes statements made by Bauer to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, in which she said that “these investigations were tamped down for fear of rocking the boat with Iran and jeopardizing the nuclear deal.”

The report, however, did not say that Bauer currently works at a research institute founded by AIPAC, which opposes the nuclear deal. David Asher, one of the founders of the operation against Hezbollah, called the Cassandra Project, was also quoted, as saying that the closer they got to a deal with Iran, the more operations were cancelled. Today Asher works at the Foundations for the Defense of Democracy, a think tank that testified before Congress 17 times against the nuclear deal.

The Politico report was based on a number of interviews, according to which the DEA tracked Hezbollah’s criminal activities including cocaine trafficking and money laundering for eight years. They evidence showed that Hezbollah’s inner circle and Iran’s supporters were involved in these activities — but that the administration prevented or delayed arrests and investigations into Hezbollah operatives.

 https://www.haaretz.com/us-news/1.829978

 

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