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Will President Obama Keep His?

President Assad and Ayatollah Khamenei are Keeping Their Word

by FRANKLIN LAMB

Latakia, Syria

Recent reports from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the accuracy of which have been conceded by the White House, but denied in Tel Aviv, have it that slightly less than half of Syria’s chemical weapons have already left the country and 100% of the country’s stockpiles are believed to have been neutralized. Well along the path to meet the June 30 agreed discard date. Both Iran and Russia have been credited with helping persuade the Syrian government that it is very much in the interest of Syria as well as the global community to discard its chemical weapons stockpiles which date back to the 1970s. A total of 11 consignments have been recently shipped out of Syria for decontamination and disposal, the latest from Latakia. Included is all of Syria’s sulphur mustard gas, a blister agent that was first widely used in WWI.

Captain Clyde Chester Lamb, the father of this observer, was a one of hundreds of victims of the deadly gas while fighting the Germans in front-line trenches in eastern France. Capt. Lamb survived, but never fully recovered, and when he did later speak about his experiences in the war, which was not often, he once told his horrified children at story time that he and his comrades had no gas masks so they used to improvise by urinating on scraps of uniforms which he would distribute to his men with instructions to hold it tightly over their nose and mouth. Somehow their pee seemed to reduce the effects of the poisonous gas.

Despite some delays due to security and logistical issues, few besides the Zionist lobby in the US Congress doubt that Syria’s work will be completed. Across Syria, according to information made available to this observer, specialists have speeded up the packing and transporting of the chemical weapons, sometimes even moving them through rebel territory to the Mediterranean port of Latakia.

In cooperation with Iran, Russia has supplied large-capacity containers and armored vehicles for the Latakia loading operation while China has sent 10 ambulances and surveillance cameras and Finland dispatched an emergency response team in case of accidents. Denmark and Norway are providing cargo ships and military escorts to take the chemicals to the container port of Gioia Tauro in Italy and the American government, among others, is also helping.

Despite Iranian cooperation with this major humanitarian project and, according to IAEA spokesmen, “solid progress has been made with the Iranian nuclear file”, the White House to date is still waffling on its pledged meager lifting of sanctions which continue to target the people of Iran. US sanctions also continue to compound and increase the nearly unfathomable suffering of the Syrian people all of whom have been targeted by Barack Obama

Executive Orders ever tightening their noose of economic sanctions.

The White House has yet to explain its delay, but Congressional sources report that President Obama is still being targeted by Israel and its Congressional agents and that Obama does not yet want to lift sanctions “for now”, more than cosmetically. This applies to medicine and medical equipment.

The same source claims that the White House is also signaling Tehran that it should continue to be patient while a sanctions review is getting started in Washington. Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Kerry has just assured Iran’s leadership that the White House appreciates the fatwa (religious decree) issued by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei last month forbidding the production and use of nuclear weapons. Kerry agreed that Iran is entitled to a peaceful nuclear program and he also credited the earlier statement by Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokes Ramin Mehman-Parast that Ayatollah Khamenei’s fatwa is binding for Iran, and that “There is nothing more important in defining the framework for our nuclear activities than the Leader’s fatwa.”

A recent Office of Financial Assets Control (OFAC) prosecution of an American citizen seeking to ship potentially life-saving MRI medical equipment to Iran illustrates the weak knees of the Obama White House by allowing that Zionist dominated Federal agency to ramp up its targeting of the people of Iran. There are dozens of cases like the one noted below and President Obama is presumably aware of them. The shameful case under review involves a University Medical Researcher who is being targeting with jail time for sending a medical device to Iran which his lawyers argued was completely innocent and clearly legal because medical equipment such as MRI’s are exempted by the ‘ humanitarian exceptions’ stated in Obama’s relevant Executive Orders imposing US sanctions against Iran.

Mr. Cliff Burns, a lawyer and law professor in Washington DC explained the case of Mr.Mohamad Nazemzadeh, who was a Research Fellow in the Neurology Department of the University of Michigan at the time of his arrest, and who is being federally prosecuted for sending a medical device to the Netherlands.

At issue is a coil for a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine. The coil is the assembly of wires that generates the necessary radio signals when electricity flows through them to permit imaging the part of the body within the coil. Mr. Nazemzadeh is currently doing research at the Henry Ford hospital in Detroit and his area of specialty is, not surprisingly, magnetic resonance imaging.

As explained by Mr. Burns, “A part for an MRI machine would, under the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act of 2000, be eligible for an export license notwithstanding the embargo on Iran. Nazemzadeh’s failure to obtain a license would, of course, be a violation of the embargo.” Even assuming that it was a technical criminal violation in his case, one has to wonder why, as Burns does, Obama Administration prosecutorial resources are being consumed to prosecute a researcher for trying to send life-saving medical equipment to Iran.

As one of the researchers lawyers noted: “Aren’t there dangerous people out there with guns and bombs who might warrant the attention instead?” An affidavit in support of a search warrant for Nazemzadeh’s mobile phone casts doubt on whether Nazemzadeh actually had the criminal intent necessary to support an OFAC pushed criminal prosecution in the first place for the attempted export of the MRI part.

According to the affidavit, Nazemzadeh was negotiating with the undercover federal agent sent in by OFAC to ship the MRI coil to Iran through a company in the Netherlands. It is not uncommon for people to believe, even if they study the vague wording of the Iranian sanction minutia, that if it is legal to ship an item to a particular country, no laws are broken if the item is then re-exported, without any involvement on their part, to a prohibited destination. Here, according to the affidavit, Mr. Nazemzadeh continued to say to the undercover agent that he believed the transaction was legal and says this is true because the export from the United States is to the Netherlands, not Iran. Mr. Nazemzadeh’s good faith legal mistake is not a criminal act.

Instead, this is precisely the sort of case that ought to be evaluated, if at all, as an administrative matter by OFAC, were that Muslim targeting agency anywhere near fair-minded and objective. OFAC should have at the maximum issued a fine in this case notwithstanding Mr. Nazemzadeh’s mistaken belief that the transaction did not violate U.S. law.

If the White House truly wants to normalize relations with Iran and with Syria as it claims, it needs to do a lot better. A good start would be by calling off OFACs attack dogs who service other than the American people. Also it should honor its oft touted “Humanitarian sanctions against Iran and Syria that exempts medicines and medical equipment”.

This language has not been implemented and it misleads the global community about the brutal and illegal nature of the White House promulgated civilian targeting, for political purposes, sanctions.

This weekend’s White House greetings to the people of the Islamic Republic for Nowruz the Iranian New Year in the Solar Hijri calendar are no doubt sincere and appreciated.

But now it’s time to give substance to America’s New Year’s greetings that her citizens can be proud of and, that are accordant and consistent with their values.

Franklin Lamb is a visiting Professor of International Law at the Faculty of Law, Damascus University and volunteers with the Sabra-Shatila Scholarship Program (sssp-lb.com).