NEW YORK – Secretary of State John Kerry, currently leading negotiations for the Obama administration regarding Iran’s nuclear program, argued as the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee in 2004 that the U.S. should provide nuclear fuel to Iran, trusting, as President Jimmy Carter had done with North Korea, that the Iranians would not use it to make a bomb.
Notably, one of Kerry’s top “bundler” fundraisers in his 2004 campaign was Hasan Nemazee, an Iranian-American now serving a 12-year sentence in federal prison for bank fraud. During the 2004 campaign, Nemazee was accused by an Iranian-American of being an “agent of the mullahs” who lead Tehran’s Islamic, terrorist-supporting regime.
In the first presidential debate between Kerry and President George W. Bush, Sept. 30, 2004, moderator Jim Lehrer of PBS asked whether or not “diplomacy and sanctions could resolve the nuclear problems with North Korea and Iran.”
Bush answered first, pointing out that when the U.S. determined North Korea was not honoring nuclear agreements, he decided to recruit China, South Korea, Russia and Japan to join in the negotiations to create a “nuclear-weapons-free” Korean Peninsula.
“On Iran, hope we can do the same thing, continue to work with the world to convince the Iranian mullahs to abandon their nuclear ambitions,” Bush responded.
Kerry’s answer to Lehrer’s question was very different.
“With respect to Iran, the British, French and Germans were the ones who initiated an effort without the United States, regrettably, to begin to try to move to curb the nuclear possibilities in Iran,” Kerry began.
“I believe we could have done better,” Kerry continued. “I think the United States should have offered the opportunity to provide the nuclear fuel, test them, see whether or not they were actually looking for it for peaceful purposes. If they weren’t willing to work a deal, then we could have put sanctions together. The president did nothing.”
North Korea had begun to acquire nuclear fuel and plutonium processing technology from the Soviet Union to expand its IRT-2000 research reactor that was gradually diverted to nuclear weapons development.
Then, in October 1994, during the Clinton administration, former President Carter negotiated with Kim Il Sung a broad deal later formalized as the “Agreed Framework.
After the delivery of the nuclear fuel by the Clinton administration, however, Kim withdrew from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and prohibited International Atomic Energy Administration inspections. Within less than a decade, North Korea proceeded to make nuclear warheads for its Nodong missiles.
Enter Hassan Nemazee
In 2004, Nemazee, a multimillionaire Iranian-American investment banker and top Democratic Party fundraiser, served as New York finance chairman for Kerry’s presidential campaign, raising some $500,000 in bundled campaign contributions.
Kerry’s campaign website listed Nemazee as being in the top tier of Kerry’s contributors nationwide. Nemazee was one of some 60 people credited with raising $100,000 or more for the campaign and earned the designation of vice chairman to Kerry’s campaign.
On Oct. 14, 2004, investigative journalist Ken Timmerman, in an article titled “Kerry’s Iran Scandal” published in the Washington Times, reported the Kerry-Edwards campaign “is headed toward a campaign finance scandal involving contributions on behalf of a foreign power … from people with close ties to mullahs in Tehran.”
Timmerman said Iran, by funneling campaign contributions to Kerry-Edwards, was “seeking from Mr. Kerry a series of concessions that would allow them to become a nuclear weapons power.”
On Oct. 18, 2004, WND attended a deposition in New York City in which Nemazee was questioned under oath by legal counsel for Aryo Pirouznia, the leader of the Student Movement Coordination Committee for Democracy in Iran.
Nemazee had sued Pirouznia in a $10 million defamation suit in which Nemazee charged Pirouznia had defamed him by calling him an agent of the religious clerics ruling Iran.
The lawsuit ultimately was settled out of court.
Pirouznia was particularly upset with Nemazee because of a speech Nemazee gave June 1, 2002, to the American Iranian Council, or AIC, at a conference in San Francisco in which Kerry deliverrd the keynote address.
Nemazee, in his speech to the AIC, argued for a resumption of normal diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Iran, which were disrupted in the Carter administration after Ayatollah Khomeini in his 1979 Islamic revolution seized and held captive U.S. Embassy personnel in Tehran for 444 days. The crisis was not resolved until the hostages were freed the day Ronald Reagan gave his first inaugural address, March 20, 1981.
Kerry, in his keynote address to the AIC, lamented President Bush’s inclusion of Iran in his “Axis of Evil” in his State of the Union address Jan. 29, 2002.
Kerry referenced his experience in Vietnam, a major theme of his 2004 presidential campaign.
“And we have always had a rather isolationist, xenophobic, self-interest definitional problem in trying to [see foreigners through the eyes of the foreigners] properly,” Kerry said.
“It’s one of the reasons we did what we did in Vietnam. It’s one of the reasons why we have trouble today dealing more effectively in the Middle East, particularly the Arab world, and needless to say, of course, in Iran.”
Nemazee’s legal problems
Nemazee’s history with Democratic Party politics stretches back to the Clinton administration.
In 1998, President Bill Clinton nominated Nemazee to be ambassador to Argentina, a nomination Clinton withdrew after Forbes magazine published an extremely damaging review of Nemazee’s business career.
On May 3, 1999, Forbes wrote: “Over the past four years Nemazee and his family have given more than $150,000 to Democratic politicians and the DNC. Six of Nemazee’s friends and relatives have given $10,000 apiece – the maximum allowable per year – to Bill Clinton’s legal defense fund.”
For her 2008 presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton hired Nemazee as her national campaign finance director, who was known for his efforts to normalize relations with the theocratic Iranian regime. In 2010, Nemazee pleaded guilty to running a Ponzi scheme in which he obtained $292 million in fraudulent loans.
On Aug. 25, 2009, federal law enforcement authorities in New York City arrested Nemazee as he was attempting to board a flight to Rome, Italy, at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey and charged him with engaging in criminal fraud for his role in arranging a $74 million loan from Citibank.
U.S. Attorney Bharara in New York City and the FBI told Dow Jones Newswires the then-59-year-old Nemazee applied for the Citibank loans for Nemazee Capital Corp. by giving Citibank “numerous documents that purported to establish the existence of accounts in Nemazee’s name at various financial institutions containing many hundreds of millions of dollars.”
According to the criminal complaint released by Bharara, the accounts Nemazee submitted in the loan documentation were “fraudulent and forged” and “either never existed or had been closed years before Nemazee submitted the documents referencing those accounts.”
The complaint alleged Nemazee’s fraudulent scheme began in December 2006, when he first approached Citibank to borrow $25 million. He subsequently raised the sum to $80 million.
On March 2010, Nemazee, then 60, pleaded guilty in federal court to charges of fraudulently applying for and receiving some $292 million in loans as chairman of Nemazee Capital from Citicorp, Bank of America and HSBC. The proceeds were used to buy property in Westchester County, make campaign contributions to Democratic Party politicians, donate to charity and to support his lavish society lifestyle.
On July 15, 2010, U.S. District Judge Sidney H. Stein in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York sentenced Nemazee to serve 12-and-a-half years in federal prison on multiple federal criminal counts of bank and wire fraud.