The private Israeli intelligence firm, Black Cube, is back in the headlines. This time, ex-employees have spilled the beans on a program to throw shade on non-governmental organizations in Hungary to help ensure the electoral victory of nationalist president Viktor Orban.
Black Cube has been hit with several controversies in recent months. Back in November 2017, it was revealed that disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein engaged Black Cube to dig up dirt on his accusers and potential accusers. In an embarrassing turn for Israel, it turned out that former Israeli Prime Minister and Defense Minister Ehud Barak had introduced Weinstein to Black Cube’s leadership.
In May, journalist Ronan Farrow reported that Black Cube had been hired to dig up dirt on two officials—Ben Rhodes and Colin Kahl—in Barack Obama’s administration who were deeply involved in negotiating the nuclear deal with Iran. Agents of the firm used phony identities to contact the officials’ spouses to try to find information they could, presumably, use to discredit Rhodes and Kahl and thereby cast a shadow on the entire effort with Iran. Read more at LobeLog
French President Emmanuel Macron likely wrote the epitaph for the Iran nuclear deal as he was leaving Washington. Based on his statements, U.S. relations with Iran and North Korea as well are becoming increasingly dangerous.
“(President Donald Trump’s) experience with North Korea is that when you are very tough, you make the other side move and you can try to go to a good deal or a better deal,” Macron said. “That’s a strategy of increasing tension … It could be useful.”
Trump accordingly believes that North Korea has agreed to talks because Kim Jong Un was intimidated by Trump’s belligerence. But this is unlikely to be the case. Colin Kahl, the former national security adviser to Vice President Joe Biden, wrote on Twitter that “Trump likely misreads Kim Jong Un’s reasons for agreeing to a summit: to legitimize rather than dismantle his nuclear program. Remember, Kim said North Korea could stop testing because the nuclear program was already complete.”
Although no one can be certain of Kim’s thinking, Kahl’s interpretation is much more consistent with what is known about Kim and the current diplomatic state of play. So, what does the US leaving the Iran nuclear deal mean for the relationships with Iran and North Korea? Read more at LobeLog
Within the next three days, President Donald Trump is likely to announce his refusal to re-certify the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), often referred to as the Iran nuclear deal. The Wilson Center brought together an opponent and two supporters of the deal to discuss the situation.
Reuel Marc Gerecht, senior fellow at the neoconservative Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) opposes the deal, yet he also seems frustrated by the lack of a coherent plan from the Trump administration as to how to deal with Iran. Read more at LobeLog
Donald Trump gave his first address to the United Nations General Assembly yesterday, and he lived up to his billing. Trump used a forum for diplomacy to threaten to annihilate an entire country, and to denounce an accord preventing another country from obtaining a nuclear weapon. He slammed an ideology that informs, to one degree or another, many countries around the world, including many of America’s closest allies. He effectively declared that the United States doesn’t care about values or human rights in its approach to international affairs. Yet, at the same time, he preached the sanctity of sovereignty while urging regime change in other countries.
That’s a lot to take apart. But let’s focus on what Trump has been threatening since the early days of his campaign: to destroy the Iran nuclear deal (also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA). It’s no surprise that the JCPOA is in jeopardy. Trump famously promised to “tear up” the deal during his campaign for the White House. Although his advisors convinced him that such an action would be unwise, he has been seeking to destroy the deal since long before he took office. Trump has reluctantly certified that Iran is complying with the deal twice already, as he must every 90 days, as mandated by a law Congress passed. Many are concerned he will not do it a third time on October 15. Read more at LobeLog