Friday, February 15, 2019

The Long War Journal (Site-Wide)

Posted: 15 Feb 2019 09:28 AM PST
The attack is the deadliest in decades for a region fraught with constant, often violent, struggles. Jaish-e-Mohammad is part of a syndicate of terror groups allied with al Qaeda and supported by the Pakistani state.
Posted: 14 Feb 2019 08:12 AM PST
Jaish al-Adl, a Sunni militant group based along Iran's southeastern border with Pakistan, has claimed responsibility for a bombing that targeted an IRGC bus. The group has repeatedly targeted Iranian security forces.

Hamas's Terror Recruiters Rely on Mix of Old and New Media

Steven Emerson, Executive Director
February 15, 2019

Hamas's Terror Recruiters Rely on Mix of Old and New Media

by Yaakov Lappin
Special to IPT News
February 15, 2019
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Coded messages on a satellite television station and Facebook are some of the tools Hamas has been using to plot a series of terrorist atrocities against Israelis.
A recent Hamas terror attempt to launch suicide bombings, stabbings, and shooting attacks against Israelis illustrates how the organization combines new and old media to promote death and destruction.
Like hundreds of attacks Hamas plans ever year, Israeli security forces detected and prevented this one. But Hamas in Gaza remains determined to keep looking for new ways to evade Israeli intelligence. This determination led it to use the Gaza-based Al-Aqsa satellite television station and Facebook to attract new recruits in the West Bank, who then receive instructions on how to go out and kill Israelis.
The recruitment attempts are part of a wider, dangerous, strategy by Hamas's military wing to evade Israeli detection, and send suicide bombers into Israeli cities from the West Bank. They illustrate just how deceptive the everyday quiet on Israeli streets is, and how hard Israel's security forces must work to preserve it.
Israel's Shin Bet intelligence agency on Wednesday announced the uncovering of a secret Gaza-based Hamas unit dedicated to recruiting Palestinians in the West Bank and east Jerusalem for terrorist attacks against Israel.
Dozens of young Palestinians – men and women – communicated with this unit and began planning violence in line with the instructions they received, according to the Shin Bet.
The agency said it learned of the latest plots and traced them back to the Gazan Hamas unit after questioning several terror operatives under arrest.
One, named by the Shin Bet as Kutiba Al-Nuaja, who is from the West Bank town of Yata, was arrested by Israeli security forces in December. During questioning, the Shin Bet learned that Al-Nuaja began communicating on Facebook with a Hamas operative in the Gaza Strip one year ago. It named that handler as Muhammad Arbid.
Al-Nuaja first thought his handler was a journalist, since Arbid's clothes had the word "press" glued on when he appeared in rioting incidents along the Gaza – Israel border.
Arbid connected his new recruit with a second Hamas handler, who presented himself as a member of the organization's military wing. The second handler encouraged Al-Nuaja to conduct terrorist attacks for Hamas.
To prove that he really was communicating with Hamas's military wing, his handlers asked him to choose a random verse from the Quran, and then watch a specific show on the Al-Aqsa satellite channel the next day. The host, he was told, would read the relevant passage. The promise came true, and the recruit was assured.
Al-Nuaja's handlers told him to conduct a suicide bomb attack on board a bus in the Israeli city of Lod, which is home to both Jews and Arabs. He was arrested days before he was supposed to receive his suicide bomb belt. The Shin Bet's detection had prevented another mass casualty attack.
A second suspect, Baha Shajiah, also aged 21, from the West Bank village of Deir Jariri, was a religious studies student at Al Quds University, east of Jerusalem. Jariri headed a secret Hamas student cell at his campus, and had already served a two-year sentence after being convicted of membership in a Hamas cell that was planning suicide bombing and shooting attacks on Israelis.
In December, he once again found himself in Israeli custody. During questioning, the Shin Bet said it learned that the suspect had been in contact with a Gazan Hamas operative via Facebook.
Jariri's handler told him that "people from the Al-Aqsa station are inviting him to be active in Hamas." The Shin Bet named that recruiter as 24-year-old Musa Alian, from Jabaliya in northern Gaza. Musa identifies himself on social media networks as a journalist.
Hamas used the same recruitment technique with other suspects. They too were lured into terrorist cells with messages from Al-Aqsa TV and Facebook. Using this technique, a Nablus resident was instructed to conduct a stabbing attack in an Israeli community, but he was arrested before he could act. Gazan Hamas recruiters told an east Jerusalem man to set up his own terrorist cell and conduct surveillance missions, like photographing busy sites in the Israeli capital.
In one extraordinary case, Hamas used Al-Aqsa TV to prove a West Bank recruit really was talking to the military wing by telling him to tune in at a specific time and watch the host place his coffee cup down on the table at the start of the program, and then recite a particular sentence from a poem.

After the program's opening graphics, the presenter deliberately set down his coffee cup, before reciting the words: "They declared the following: I do not worry when I am killed for Allah as a Muslim. [I am not worried about] what side I fall to the ground, dead for Allah."
"By watching the broadcast, the operative in the West Bank received confirmation of what he had heard from the operative in the Gaza Strip," the Shin Bet said.
This usage of the television station was instrumental in Israel's decision to bomb its studios in the Gaza Strip on Nov. 12 during an exchange of fire with Hamas.
Israel's intelligence services considered the channel to be a central aspect of Hamas's recruitment mechanism.
The Shin Bet also named two Al Aqsa TV hosts as notable aides in the military wing terrorist messaging system.
But Hamas did not just use the station to pass on coded confirmations to its new recruits. It also used it to incessantly incite Palestinians to violence.
"We must return to [our land] – above ground, underground, by means of demonstrations, bombs, weapons, explosives, explosive belts... We must return to our land," Hamas cleric and TV host Iyad Abu Funun declared on the station last April.
In recent years, the station also hosted figures like Hamas's Deputy of Religious Endowments, Abdallah Jarbu, who said: "The Jews are foreign bacteria... The Quran itself says that they have no parallel... May he annihilate this filthy people."
Ultimately, these efforts at fomenting jihadist violence reflect the strategy of Hamas's leadership, described by a Shin Bet source as undermining "stability in the West Bank at any cost."
Yaakov Lappin is a military and strategic affairs correspondent. He also conducts research and analysis for defense think tanks, and is the Israel correspondent for IHS Jane's Defense Weekly. His book, The Virtual Caliphate, explores the online jihadist presence.
The IPT accepts no funding from outside the United States, or from any governmental agency or political or religious institutions. Your support of The Investigative Project on Terrorism is critical in winning a battle we cannot afford to lose. All donations are tax-deductible. Click here to donate online. The Investigative Project on Terrorism Foundation is a recognized 501(c)3 organization.  

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UANI Resource: Perspectives on Lebanon and Hezbollah

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 Perspectives: Lebanon and Hezbollah 

February 15, 2018

Perspectives: Lebanon and Hezbollah, is a UANI weekly resource highlighting developments in Lebanon and the activities of the terrorist group Hezbollah.  

Lebanon Foreign Relations

U.S. Delivers Weapons to Lebanese Army
The United States announced on Wednesday that it delivered a shipment of laser-guided rockets to the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF). The rockets are to be used by the LAF's A-29 Super Tucano attack aircraft, also supplied by the United States. The timing of the delivery may have been related to Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah's offer to secure Iranian military aid for the LAF, since echoed by Tehran's ambassador to Beirut.

Pompeo Warns of Hezbollah's Growing Influence in Lebanon
At this week's U.S.-led conference on the Middle East in Warsaw, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned of Hezbollah's growing influence in Lebanon, but reaffirmed Washington's commitment to its partnership with Beirut and its people. Pompeo stressed that the U.S. wanted "Iran out" of Lebanon, and expressed his regret at the absence of Lebanese officials from the meeting.

In related news, Pompeo told Fox News earlier this week that Hezbollah has "active cells" in Venezuela. Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro denied Pompeo's claims in an interview with pro-Hezbollah Al-Mayadeen - his first with any Arabic-language outlet.

UNIFIL Commander Calls on Lebanon to Increase Deployment to South, Handle Tunnels
The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon's (UNIFIL) Commander Maj. Gen. Stefano Del Col met with newly appointed Lebanese Defense Minister Elias Bou Saab, and called on the Lebanese Army to "undertake follow-up actions on the recently discovered tunnels north of the Blue Line," and "scale up the rapid deployment" of Army regiments to south Lebanon.

France Remains Committed to CEDRE Aid to Lebanon
French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire assured Prime Minister Saad Hariri during a meeting in Dubai this week that France would deliver funds it pledged to Lebanon during the April 2018 international economic conference in support of Lebanon development (CEDRE) held in Paris.

Foreign Officials Visit Beirut After Government Formation
A number of regional officials visited Lebanon this week, after Beirut succeeded in forming a government following a nine-month delay. 

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif arrived in Beirut, and expressed his country's readiness to cooperate "in all fields" approved by the new Lebanese government. Zarif then met with Lebanese President Michel Aoun, who said Iran would have a role in repatriating Syrian refugees currently residing in Lebanon. Zarif also met with Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, again emphasizing his country's desire to cooperate with Lebanon. He later held a press conference with his Lebanese counterpart Gebran Bassil, who said Beirut was open to economic cooperation with Iran that "doesn't breach international resolutions." Bassil also announced that Lebanon would boycott the U.S.-led Middle East conference in Warsaw because of Israel's presence and its anti-Iranian orientation. Bassil also pressed Zarif on Nizar Zakka - a Lebanese citizen detained by Iran since 2015 on espionage charges - but Zarif responded that Zakka's fate was in the hands of Iran's "independent judiciary." Zarif also met with Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah, before finally meeting with Prime Minister Saad Hariri. Though neither Zarif nor Hariri issued a press statement after the meeting, later reports said Hariri stressed Lebanon's commitment to its obligations to the Arab League and to the international community.

Arab League Secretary General Ahmad Abul Gheit also came to Lebanon, a trip purposefully timed to compete with Zarif's. He also met with senior Lebanese officials, including Aoun, and Hariri. Saudi Royal envoy Nizar al-Aloula also visited Lebanon and met with senior Lebanese officials and politicians. Al-Aloula said Riyadh was ready to initiate 20 agreements with Lebanon. Coinciding with al-Aloula's visit, Saudi Arabia's ambassador to Lebanon announced an end to Riyadh's eight-year travel ban to Beirut.

Hezbollah Domestically

Hezbollah Suggests U.S. Responsible for Suicide Bombing in Iran
Hezbollah condemned Wednesday's suicide bombing in Iran which killed 27 IRGC fighters - whom it dubbed "brothers" - blaming the U.S. for the attack. Hezbollah's statement said the U.S. propped up, aided, and empowered "takfiri terrorist groups" throughout the region, and said it was not by chance that the bombing coincided with the U.S.-led conference in Warsaw.
Hezbollah's Nabil Qaouq: Hezbollah's Control of Health Ministry Demonstrates U.S. Decline in Lebanon
Hezbollah Central Council Member Nabil Qaouq said this week that Hezbollah had obtained the Lebanese Health Ministry despite a U.S. "veto." Qaouq said Hezbollah's achievement put an end to the "U.S. veto" in Lebanese politics and demonstrated the magnitude of the decline of the U.S.'s role and influence in Lebanon.

Hezbollah Officials Call on Lebanon's New Government to Cooperate with Iran
Several Hezbollah officials reiterated Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah's call last week for the new Lebanese government to cooperate with Iran and accept Iranian aid. Executive Council Deputy Chairman Ali Daamoush said Beirut's government "must not repeat the mistake of past governments and squander the opportunity to accept aid from, or cooperate with, Iran." He said accepting such aid would demonstrate "for once" that a Lebanese government "possessed independent decision-making and sovereignty, and didn't bow to vetoes set by the United States or its allies." Mahmoud Qmati - currently a Minister in Saad Hariri's new government and the former deputy chairman of Hezbollah's Political Council - echoed Daamoush's call, saying Iran was ready to aid Lebanon "in all fields."

Hezbollah MP: The Rifle of the Resistance Made Michel Aoun President
During a heated parliamentary exchange between Hezbollah MP Nawwaf al-Mousaoui and Kataeb MP Nadim Gemayel, al-Mousaoui said, "it's an honor to the Lebanese that Michel Aoun was elected [president] through the rifle of the resistance." Al-Mousaoui contrasted Aoun to Nadim's father - Bachir Gemayel - whom he said was "elected on an Israeli tank," referring to Israeli tanks guarding the Baabda Presidential Palace upon Bachir's election as president in 1982.

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Eye on Iran: Pence Accuses Europe Of Busting Sanctions Against 'Murderous' Iran

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Eye on Iran will be suspended on Monday, February 18, in observance of Presidents Day and will resume Tuesday, February 19.


Vice President Mike Pence lashed out at Washington's major European allies for helping what he called a "murderous" Iran escape U.S. sanctions, warning at a global conference here that their actions would exacerbate a divide between Europe and the U.S. "The Iranian regime openly advocates another Holocaust and it seeks the means to achieve it," Mr. Pence said, in a speech delivered in a country where occupying Nazi forces housed the Auschwitz extermination camp during World War II.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned on Thursday of the growing influence of the militant group Hezbollah in Lebanon, while reaffirming the commitment of the US to a partnership with Beirut and its people. Speaking on the margins of the Warsaw conference, Mr Pompeo told Al Hurra television station that "Hezbollah is definitely more powerful than they were four or five years ago." "I regret that" he said in the interview.

Iran's government is celebrating four decades of "revolution." Since 1979, it has exported violent destabilization to Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and my country, Yemen, and sponsored terrorist attacks on almost every continent. Iran's leaders have enriched themselves at the expense of their people, and intimidated nations far beyond their borders. Happy 40th anniversary! But leave us out of it. For four years, war has afflicted Yemen's people, precipitated by the Iran-backed Houthi militias' coup in Sana'a and attempted takeover of the country.


...Former Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) has joined nonprofit advocacy group United Against Nuclear Iran as senior adviser. Ayotte is the third former senator advising the group: former Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) serves as chairman and Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) is on the group's advisory board. Ayotte has stayed busy since losing a tight reelection in 2016. The former senator has joined the board of directors of BAE Systems and Caterpillar and the board of advisers for the Foundation for Defense of Democracies' Center on Military and Political Power. She's also a senior adviser to Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions.


More than 30 heads of state and government and 80 defense and foreign ministers are meeting in Munich for an annual security conference known for its frank exchanges and backroom diplomacy. Vice President Mike Pence, who heads the U.S. delegation, set the tone in Warsaw on Thursday, accusing Britain, France and Germany of trying to "break" American sanctions on Iran and calling on them to withdraw from the 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran.


South Korea resumed imports of Iranian oil in January after a four-month hiatus, customs data showed on Friday, but shipments were down 76 percent from the same month last year.  The world's fifth-largest crude importer won a six-month waiver in November from U.S. sanctions on Tehran's oil exports, but did not immediately start imports, mainly due to payment and insurance issues.


The U.S. Department of Justice last year designated Hezbollah, a Lebanese political party and militant group, as a transnational criminal organization, thanks to its long-standing and well-documented partnership with Latin American drug cartels. A focal point of Hezbollah operations in the Western Hemisphere is the Tri-Border Area of Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay, a sanctuary for all sorts of organized crime. Numerous terrorism financing, money laundering, and drug trafficking cases in U.S. courts involve Hezbollah-aligned Lebanese nationals who operate there. Argentina and Brazil have shown an increased readiness to take action against Hezbollah, but Paraguay, the country where Hezbollah is most vulnerable to action, is the most reluctant to recognize the challenge.

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has sent condolences to the families of the victims of a suicide car bombing that struck a bus carrying Iran's elite Revolutionary Guard troops, killing at least 27 people. An al-Qaida-linked group, Jaish al-Adl, claimed responsibility for Wednesday's attack in Iran's restive southeastern Sistan and Baluchistan province. Tehran linked the bombing to an ongoing U.S.-led conference in Warsaw largely focused on Iran.

The U.N. Security Council is condemning "in the strongest possible terms" the bombing in Iran that killed 27 people, calling it a "heinous and cowardly terrorist attack." All 15 members, including the United States, which is a strong critic of Iran's leaders, "expressed their deepest sympathy and condolences to the families of the victims and to the government of Islamic Republic of Iran."

Senior Iranian officials have vowed a furious response to the suicide bombing which targeted a Revolutionary Guard bus and killed nearly 30 and injured 13 in Zahedan city, the capital of Sistan-Baluchestan province. While Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei ordered the Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) to launch an investigation into "possible oversight" leading to the attack, President Hassan Rouhani accused the United States and its allies and urged neighboring countries to "do their due diligence in upholding values of good neighborliness."


Iranian teachers have staged peaceful rallies in at least six cities to protest what they see as government suppression of their rights and to call for better working conditions in their poorly paid profession. Images verified by VOA Persian and sent from social media users inside Iran showed teachers rallying Wednesday outside education departments in the northern cities of Ardabil and Urmia, the northwestern cities of Kermanshah, Marivan and Sanandaj, and in the northeastern city of Mashhad.

Amid worsening diplomatic and economic isolation, Iran is continuing its crackdown on perceived dissidents. Among the targets: environmental scientists. A recent Amnesty International report claimed the Islamic Republic in 2018 arrested more than 7,000 rights defenders, in what was referred to as Iran's "year of shame." The organization highlighted that at least 63 environmental activists and researchers were detained, with some remaining in prison on dubious charges and without access to legal representation.


Vice President Mike Pence used an American-convened conference on Middle East security to lash out at Washington's three closest European allies on Thursday, accusing them of trying "to break American sanctions against Iran's murderous revolutionary regime." Mr. Pence delivered his critique of the allies, Britain, France and Germany, in an address at a Warsaw conference organized by the Trump administration. 

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence accused Washington's European allies on Thursday of trying to break U.S. sanctions against Tehran and called on them to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal. "Sadly, some of our leading European partners have not been nearly as cooperative. In fact, they have led the effort to create mechanisms to break up our sanctions," Pence said during a conference on the Middle East organized by the United States in Warsaw.

Vice President Mike Pence told a conference of European and Middle East leaders on Thursday that Iran is plotting to eliminate Israel from the face of the earth, and seeks to unleash a 'new Holocaust.' With Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu watching, Pence said in Poland that Tehran poses 'the greatest threat to peace and security' in the region. Hours earlier, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters that 'confronting Iran' is a necessary step for any nation that wants to 'achieve peace and stability in the Middle East.'

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo underlined the need for different foreign policy approaches to Iran and North Korea in comments published Thursday, describing Tehran as more "destabilizing" than Pyongyang. "We've made very clear that these situations are very different. We take each of them where we find them," he told US television station CBS in excerpts of a transcript released by the State Department.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with the EU's top diplomat in Brussels on Friday, a day after Vice President Mike Pence accused America's traditional European allies of trying to undermine U.S. sanctions against Iran. The meeting with Federica Mogherini, the EU's foreign policy chief, was scheduled before Pence's rebuke of European powers during a Middle East peace conference in Warsaw on Thursday, which Mogherini missed, citing a scheduling conflict at NATO.


The former U.S. Air Force intelligence analyst, her brown hair now hidden underneath a mandatory hijab, stood before an Iranian ayatollah as a television camera filmed behind her. It was 2012 and Monica Elfriede Witt offered Ayatollah Hadi Barikbin the pledge of faith all Islam converts must recite: "There is no god but God and Muhammad is His messenger."


Iran forty years after its Islamic revolution is facing a grave economic crisis and growing popular discontent. It continues to commit acts that deepen its isolation even as it benefits from the mistakes of its adversaries. US sanctions are more punishing than anticipated but will probably not cause Iran to alter policies of greatest concern to Washington, such as regional interventions and ballistic missile development, and are instead strengthening hardline elements as Iran approaches a key political transition. 


The president of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro, called the self-declared interim president and opposition leader Juan Guaido "a CIA agent who serves the interests of the United States and the Zionists" in an interview with the Hezbollah-affiliated Lebanese media group, Al-Mayadeen. He added in the interview posted on Tuesday that he feels "love for the noble Palestinian cause," and sent words of "encouragement to the Palestinian and Arab prisoners confined in Israeli jails."

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Thursday that the presence of its arch foe the United States in the Middle East harmed countries in the region and called on Washington to fully withdraw its troops from the country.  "The presence of U.S. in Syria and other countries in the region is not useful .... America should reconsider its Middle East policy," Rouhani said after a summit on Syria between Iran, Russia and Turkey in southern Russia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday told his Turkish and Iranian counterparts that the presence of what he called terrorist groups in Syria's Idlib region should not be tolerated. Putin was speaking at a summit he is hosting in the Black Sea resort of Sochi to discuss the future of Syria with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

Iran, Russia and Kazakhstan are making progress on organising finance for a long-planned wheat deal that could double or triple supplies to Iran, the secretary general of Iran's Federation of Food Industry Associations said. Talks started a year ago, but stalled due to a lack of financing. The deal involves Russia and Kazakhstan supplying wheat to Iranian millers, who in turn would supply flour to Iraq - a market dominated by Turkey and other countries.


The time has come to add tiny, gas-drenched Qatar to America's list of nations to contain. Containment is a Cold War-era concept hatched by U.S. foreign service officer George Frost Kennan just after World War II, while he served in America's embassy in Moscow.

The Iranian regime remains the biggest threat to stability in the region 40 years after its revolution under ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the Saudi ambassador to the US said. "Forty years ago, the Ayatollah landed in Iran and ushered a reign of terror and destruction," Prince Khalid bin Salman said on Wednesday night on Twitter. Saudi Arabia, the UAE and their Gulf allies accuse Iran of funding armed groups that operate in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria and Yemen. 

The US on Thursday accused Iran of prolonging the war in Yemen with its support for the Houthis and called on Tehran to help make a ceasefire agreement a success. Speaking to Arab News at the Middle East conference in Warsaw, Washington's special represenative for Iran Brian Hook said there had been extensive discussion at the meeting of the war, which is now in its fifth year.


As Trump administration officials presided over the second day of an international conference in Warsaw dominated by calls to ratchet up pressure on Iran, one longtime U.S. ally and NATO member was noticeably absent - Turkey. Snubbing the gathering in Poland, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday attended a rival conference in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, where he planned to meet his Russian and Iranian counterparts to work out a final settlement of the war in Syria.


Paris has announced that a French ambassador would return to Tehran "soon", in a sign of improved relations between the two countries. Paris also said that a new Iranian ambassador is expected to land in the French capital. The announcement was made on Wednesday, the first day of a US-led meeting in Warsaw where Washington mobilized the largest international gathering against Iranian policies.

Eye on Iran is a periodic news summary from United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) a program of the American Coalition Against Nuclear Iran, Inc., a tax-exempt organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Eye on Iran is not intended as a comprehensive media clips summary but rather a selection of media elements with discreet analysis in a PDA friendly format. For more information please email

United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) is a non-partisan, broad-based coalition that is united in a commitment to prevent Iran from fulfilling its ambition to become a regional super-power possessing nuclear weapons.  UANI is an issue-based coalition in which each coalition member will have its own interests as well as the collective goal of advancing an Iran free of nuclear weapons.