How can the U.S. hope to keep tabs on Tehran’s nuclear program when we can’t even track its oil tankers?
Ms. Rosett is journalist in residence with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, and heads its Investigative Reporting Project.
Claudia Rosett writes: American negotiators and their cohorts are trying to close a deal that would let Iran keep its nuclear program, subject to intricate conditions of monitoring and enforcement. Yet how is a deal like that supposed to be verified? The Obama administration can’t even keep up with the Iran-linked oil tankers on the U.S. blacklist.
Currently, there are at least 55 of these tankers the Treasury Department says are under U.S. sanctions. These are large ships, major links in the oil chain that sustains the Tehran regime, many of them calling at ports from Turkey to China. They are easier to spot and track than, say, smuggled nuclear parts (which, in a pinch, they could potentially squeeze on board).
“Typical of Iran’s shrouded tanker fleet is the blacklisted ship called the Sinopa, previously named the Superior and before that, the Daisy. Since early 2014, the Sinopa has visited India and China. It has also made multiple trips from Iran to Turkey, via the Suez Canal, according to Lloyd’s List Intelligence shipping database, the main source of ship-tracking data for this article.”
But Iran has engaged for years in what Treasury called “deceptive practices” to dodge sanctions. These include trying to mask the identities, and sometimes the smuggling activities, of its blacklisted ships by renaming them, reflagging them to other countries, veiling their ownership behind front companies, presenting false documents, and engaging in illicit ship-to-ship oil transfers.
“Judging by Treasury’s blacklist, the Sinopa—which Treasury still describes under her previous name of Superior—has done all of this under no identified flag. Why not—what is she hiding? The Treasury refuses to comment on specific cases.”
The result, according to information on Treasury’s publicly available blacklist, is that the U.S. government cannot establish under what flag at least 31 of these tankers are doing business. They can be identified by their unique seven-digit hull numbers, or IMO numbers, issued for the life of each ship. But a ship’s flag also is a vital identifier, one under which it signals its position, carries cargo and presents credentials to visit ports, buy insurance and pay fees. On Treasury’s Specially Designated Nationals list, which helps ensure global compliance with U.S. sanctions, in the category of “flag” for these 31 tankers Treasury states: “none identified.”
Under terms of the November 2013 Joint Plan of Action that frames the Iran nuclear talks, the U.S. does grant temporary waivers for a handful of places to buy Iranian oil in limited quantities: Turkey, India, China, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. This means that some activities of these tankers may be legitimate. Read the rest of this entry »
Iran unveils newly developed long range cruise missile called Soumar that looks like a reverse engineered KH-55
“Soumar long-range ground-to-ground cruise missile system has been designed and built by experts of the defense ministry’s aerospace industries organization,” Defense Minister Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan told reporters after the unveiling ceremony.
“The designing and building of this weapon whose navigation and propulsion systems and its structure enjoy complicated and new technologies is seen as a wide stride taken to enhance the Islamic Republic of Iran’s defensive and deterrence power,” he added.
Dehqan also announced the mass delivery of Qadr and Qiyam long-range ballistic missiles to the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC)’s Aerospace Force, and said these missiles are capable of destroying different types of targets under any type of conditions due to their tactical capability, sustainability in the battleground and radar-evading features.
He also announced that the defense ministry will deliver upgraded versions of these long-range and high-precision missiles to the Iranian military forces next year.
Also during the ceremony, IRGC Aerospace Force Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh hailed Iran’s advancements in missile technology under the harshest sanctions imposed on the country, and underlined that Iran will never allow its defense program and cruise missiles become a topic in its negotiations with the world powers.
The Iranian Armed Forces have recently test-fired different types of newly-developed missiles and torpedoes and tested a large number of home-made weapons, tools and equipment, including submarines, military ships, artillery, choppers, aircrafts, UAVs and air defense and electronic systems, during massive military drills.
Defense analysts and military observers say that Iran’s wargames and its advancements in weapons production have proved as a deterrent factor.
Iran successfully tested second generation of Sejjil missiles and brought it into mass production in 2013.
Sejjil missiles are considered as the third generation of Iran-made long-range missiles.
Also, Iran’s 2000km-range, liquid-fuel, Qadr F ballistic missile can reach territories as far as Israel. Read the rest of this entry »
“The FCC has now rolled out its initial plan, it’s 332 pages. Although when I say rolled out, that word has to be used lightly, because you and I are not allowed to read those 332 pages. They literally have a book, this is how we are going to regulate the internet, and by the way, no one gets to read it. One FCC commissioner held up the book and said ‘I guess you got to pass it to find out what’s in it,’ echoing Nancy Pelosi,” Cruz says in a statement.
“If the FCC turns the Internet into a regulated public utility, the innovation, the creativity that has characterized the Internet from its dawn, will inevitably be stifled. Now Title II by the way, gives all sorts of authority to regulate pricing and terms of service, and one of the implications if the Internet is regulated under Title II is 11 billion dollars a year in new taxes… Think about whether 11 billion dollars a year on the Internet is a good thing or a bad thing.
“Now here’s where the FCC says, ‘no don’t worry, we won’t collect those taxes, we’re going to exercise forbearance,’ I don’t know if you’ve heard the ancient fable about the frog who gives the scorpion a ride across the river, and half way across the river the scorpion stabs the frog and they both sink under the water and as they’re going under, the frog says, ‘why, now we both will die’, and the scorpion tells the frog, ‘because it is my nature.’ I promise you, it is the nature of the government regulators, if they have it, they will use it, 100 percent of the time, it will grow, the taxes will come.
Charlie Spiering reports: Press Secretary Josh Earnest defended President Obama and White House officials for refusing to describe the terrorist attacks in Paris as a consequence of radical Islamic terrorism.
Earnest explained to White House reporters during the press briefing that this is a question of “accuracy.”
“We want to describe exactly what happened. Read the rest of this entry »
“Would you agree to supplement your Exhibit B, so that we would have . . . your state revenue that you would’ve also received, since ultimately it’s Affordable Care Act-related?”
Fresh from The Corner, Brendan Bordelon reports: Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber repeatedly refused to answer how much money the government paid him for advice on crafting and explaining the Affordable Care Act — prompting incredulous responses from Republican lawmakers, who reminded the professor he was under oath.
“I’m sure my counsel would be happy to take that up with you.”
– Jonathan Gruber
GOP Oversight chairman Darrel Issa informed Gruber that due to a misfiled form, the committee did not receive the complete compensation data for his work on Obamacare.
“Actually I was asking would you agree to provide it.”
– Oversight chairman Darrel Issa
“Why doesn’t he just tell us? How much money did you get from the state taxpayers and the federal taxpayers? He’s under oath, why doesn’t he tell us how much he got paid by the taxpayers? We don’t have to wait for him to send something to us, he should just be able to tell us.”
– Ohio Republican Jim Jordan
“As I said, the committee could take that up with my counsel.”
– Jonathan Gruber
“I think the report is full of crap.”
Graham said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
The House Intelligence Committee released a report on Friday evening, which took two years to compile, that found there was no outright intelligence failure during the attack, there was no delay in the rescue of U.S. personnel and there was no political cover-up by Obama administration officials. Read the rest of this entry »
THE HAMMER: to Bret Baier on Special Report
“The reason Obama has waited is because, according to his own words which he has said repeatedly for six years, he is not allowed under the constitution to do what he’s now proposing to do. He has said this over and over again. He’s said I’d like to do all these things, but under the constitution, I do not write the laws. If any of this is true, this is a wholesale canceling of a law passed by Congress. If it is to be canceled, if it is to be reformed, it has to be done.”
“This is a constitutionally odious proposal. He knows it and he admitted it himself. As a matter of policy, I think it’s a terrible idea. I’m not against legalization, but I am against legalization before you’ve done anything serious about controlling the border. Otherwise this is an advertisement to the whole world, particularly Latin America where it’s easy to get across the border, that you come into America illegally. It’s up to you, we do not control our borders. And then if you wait long enough and you make strong enough case and there’s enough pressure, we will legalize you.”
“He’s waited [to do this] because it’s illegal. If they were a Republican who is in the White House and says I waited and waited, I demanded abolition of the capital gains tax and the Congress wouldn’t do it, so i’m ordering the IRS: no collection of capital gains. If congress wants to pass a law to override that, I invite that. You would be up here as everybody would and say this is unconstitutional, it is an impeachable offense. That’s what he’s doing. He himself has admitted that year after year up till now, with two years left, all the elections behind him. He doesn’t care.”
“I know there are some folks who wish I could just bypass Congress. I can’t.”
Responding to Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer’s interview with President Obama, aired on Sunday morning, Woodward noted:
“I found the interview with Obama very revealing, because he said he’s going to reach out to the other side — to persuade and sell. Now, if you’re going to reach out to the other side on something, one of the things you want to do is listen. But we didn’t hear that.”
“What we heard, is the continuous Obama line: ‘I’m heading in the right direction; this is right.’ …A go-it-alone approach just isn’t going to work.”
Judicial Watch: Obama Asserts Fast and Furious Executive Privilege Claim for Holder’s Wife
Judicial Watch announced today that it received from the Obama Department of Justice (DOJ) a “Vaughn index” detailing records about the Operation Fast and Furious scandal. The index was forced out of the Obama administration thanks to JW’s June 2012 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request and subsequent September 2012 FOIA lawsuit (Judicial Watch v. Department of Justice (No. 1:12-cv-01510)). A federal court had ordered the production over the objections of the Obama Justice Department.
“This is the first time that the Obama administration has provided a detailed listing of all records being withheld from Congress and the American people about the deadly Fast and Furious gun running scandal.”
[Check out John’s Fund’s book, authored with Heritage’s Hans von Spakovsky: “Obama’s Enforcer: Eric Holder’s Justice Department“]
The document details the Attorney General Holder’s personal involvement in managing the Justice Department’s strategy on media and Congressional investigations into the Fast and Furious scandal.
Notably, the document discloses that emails between Attorney General Holder and his wife Sharon Malone – as well as his mother – are being withheld under an extraordinary claim of executive privilege as well as a dubious claim of deliberative process privilege under the Freedom of Information Act. The “First Lady of the Justice Department” is a physician and not a government employee.
“The 1307-page ‘draft’ Vaughn index was emailed to Judicial Watch at 8:34 p.m. last night, a few hours before a federal court-ordered deadline. In its cover letter, the Department of Justice asserts that all of the responsive records described in the index are ‘subject to the assertion of executive privilege’.”
This is the first time that the Obama administration has provided a detailed listing of all records being withheld from Congress and the American people about the deadly Fast and Furious gun running scandal. The 1307-page “draft” Vaughn index was emailed to Judicial Watch at 8:34 p.m. last night, a few hours before a federal court-ordered deadline. In its cover letter, the Department of Justice asserts that all of the responsive records described in the index are “subject to the assertion of executive privilege.”
“A week before the contempt finding, to protect Holder from criminal prosecution and stave off the contempt vote, President Obama asserted executive privilege over the Fast and Furious records the House Oversight Committee had subpoenaed eight months earlier.”
The Vaughn index explains 15,662 documents. Typically, a Vaughn index must: (1) identify each record withheld; (2) state the statutory exemption claimed; and (3) explain how disclosure would damage the interests protected by the claimed exemption. Read the rest of this entry »
For The Washington Post, Andrea Peterson reports: The Obama administration is secretly negotiating a treaty that could have significant effects on domestic law. Officially, it’s a “free trade” treaty among Pacific rim countries, but a section of the draft agreement leaked in 2011 suggested that it will require signers, including the United States, to make significant changes to copyright law and enforcement measures.
“…it seems strange for the Times to be opining on a treaty the public hasn’t gotten to see yet. If the Times has gotten a leaked copy of the report, it should publish it so the public can make up its own mind.”
Strangely, the administration seems to be encouraging the public to have a debate on the treaty before they know what’s in it. The Office of the United States Trade Representative has solicited comments about the treaty on its Web site, but there is no particularly detailed information about the content of the agreement, or a draft of the current version of the proposal. Read the rest of this entry »