Mint Press on United Against Nuclear Iran, yet another neocon advocacy group.

Mint Press dissects United Against Nuclear Iran, a neocon advocacy group that clearly wants to destroy Iran because of its hostility toward Israel. These are excerpts. As usual with neocon groups, the money and most of the work is performed by Jews but they recruit a lot of sympathetic non-Jews, like Jeb Bush, in order to diffuse the reality that it is a pro-Israel organization. The entire article is well worth reading.

By Alan McLeod


For such a large, well-financed, and influential organization filled with senior officials, United Against Nuclear [UANI] Iran keeps its funding sources very quiet. However, in 2015, Clifton was able to obtain a UANI donor list for the 2013 financial year. By far and away, the largest funders were billionaire New York-based investor Thomas Kaplan and multibillionaire Israeli-American casino mogul Sheldon Adelson.

Kaplan, whose $843,000 donation supplied around half the group’s 2013 funding, is a venture capitalist investor concentrating on metals, particularly gold. He is the chairman of Tigris Financial and the Electrum Group LLC. Both of Kaplan’s firms employ UANI CEO Mark Wallace as CEO and COO, respectively.

A 2010 Wall Street Journal article titled “Tigris Financial Goes All-in on Gold” noted that the company had bet billions of dollars on the price of gold rising, more than the reserves of the Brazilian central bank. As Clifton has noted, both Kaplan and Wallace have marketed gold to clients as the perfect commodity to hold if there is increased instability in the Middle East. Therefore, both Kaplan and Wallace stand to make massive sums if the U.S. or Israel were to attack Iran, making their UANI warmongering a gigantic and potentially profitable conflict of interest.

Adelson provided the majority of the rest of UANI’s funding. The world’s 18th-richest individual at the time of his 2021 death, the tycoon turned his economic empire into a political one, supporting ultraconservative causes in both the United States and Israel. Between 2010 and 2020, he and his wife donated more than $500 million to the Republican Party, becoming GOP kingmakers in the process. He would often vet Republican presidential candidates at his casino in Las Vegas, and it was often said that this “Adelson Primary” was almost as important as the public one.

An ardent Zionist, Adelson bankrolled numerous pro-Israel lobby projects, such as AIPAC, One Jerusalem and Taglit Birthright. He also owned Israel Hayom, the country’s most-read newspaper, with 31% of the national share. Relentlessly pro-Netanyahu, it was said that the Israeli prime minister asked his friend Adelson to set up a newspaper to help his political career.

Adelson and his influence have been one of the driving forces of American hostility towards Iran. In 2013, during a conversation with Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, he called for the United States to stop negotiating and drop a nuclear bomb on Iran to show that “we mean business.”

A potential third, even more controversial, source of funding is the Gulf monarchies of Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Leaked emails show UANI officials soliciting support from the Emirati royal family. Both Mark Wallace and Frances Townsend, for example, emailed the Emirati Ambassador to the U.S. detailing cost estimates for upcoming events and inquiring about support from the UAE.

Thomas Kaplan himself is extraordinarily close to the nation. “The country and the leadership of the UAE, I would say, are my closest partners in more facets of my life than anyone else other than my wife,” he told the Emirati outlet, The National News, which also detailed his friendship with Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed.

Thomas Kaplan chats with UAE monarch Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed
Thomas Kaplan chats with UAE monarch Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed. Credit | Brunswick PR


One of United Against Nuclear Iran’s primary activities, Iranian political commenter Ali Alizadeh told MintPress, is to create a worldwide “culture of fear and anxiety for investing in Iran.” The group attempts to persuade businesses to divest from the Islamic Republic and sign their certification pledge, which reads as follows:

The undersigned [Name], the [Title] of [Company] (the “Company”), does hereby certify on behalf of the Company that until the Iranian regime verifiably abandons its drive for nuclear weapons, support for terrorism, routine human rights violations, hostage-taking, and rampant anti-Americanism as state policy, that neither the Company nor any subsidiary or affiliate of the Company, directly or through an agent, representative or intermediary.”

One corporation that UANI targeted was the industrial machinery firm Caterpillar. UANI hectored the firm, even erecting a roadside billboard outside its headquarters in Peoria, IL, insinuating that they were aiding Iran in constructing a nuclear weapon. Caterpillar quickly ordered its Iran projects terminated. Wallace took heart from his group’s victory and warned that other businesses would be targeted.

United Against Nuclear Iran
A billboard erected by United Against Nuclear Iran near Caterpillar’s Illinois headquarters. Photo | United Against Nuclear Iran

These have included French companies such as Airbus and ​​Peugeot-Citroen, who were threatened with legal action. In 2019, UANI earned an official rebuke from the Russian Foreign Ministry for attempting to intimidate Russian corporations trading with Tehran. “We think such actions are unacceptable and deeply concerning,” said Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova. “Attempts to pressure and threaten Russian business … are a follow-up on the dishonorable anti-Iranian cause by the U.S. administration,” she added, hinting at collusion between the government and the supposedly non-governmental organization.

Some of UANI’s campaigns have been markedly petty, including pressuring New York City hotels to cancel bookings with Iranian officials (including then-President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad) visiting the city on United Nations business. Others, however, have been devastating to the Iranian economy, such as the SWIFT international money transfer terminating its relationship with Tehran, cutting the country off from the global banking system.

On UANI’s actions against businesses, Freeman said: “It’s effective, and (in some cases, at least) it’s to the detriment of the people of Iran; it’s to the detriment of these companies; and it’s to the detriment of peace in the region.”

While the group presents itself as against a nuclear Iran, UANI was strangely opposed to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) — the deal between Iran and the West that limited the former’s nuclear technology research in exchange for sanctions relief from the latter. [Not so strange. UANI et al. want Iran destroyed.] As MintPress reported at the time, UANI spent millions on T.V. advertisements trashing the agreement. As Wallace noted, “We have a multi-million-dollar budget, and we are in it for the long haul. Money continues to pour in.”

 After the JCPOA was signed, UANI hosted a summit attended by senior Israeli, Emirati, and Bahraini officials, touting its failures. Once UANI’s John Bolton was named Donald Trump’s National Security Advisor, he persuaded the president to withdraw entirely from the deal. Bolton has deep connections to the Mojahedin-e-Khalq (MEK), an exiled Iranian political group widely identified as a terrorist organization. He has, for some time, considered them a government in waiting after the U.S. overthrows the current administration. “Before 2019, we will celebrate in Tehran,” he told the group in 2018, predicting that, with him at the helm, the Trump administration would soon cause the downfall of the Iranian government.

Bolton has long been a hardliner on regime change. “To stop Iran’s bomb, bomb Iran,” read the title of his 2015 New York Times op-ed. Yet this appears to be the dominant position at UANI. In March, Ross published an article in The Atlantic headlined “Iran needs to believe America’s threat,” which demanded that the U.S. “take forceful action to check Tehran’s progress toward a nuclear bomb.” Failure to do so, Ross claimed, would provoke Israel to do so itself – a “much more dangerous scenario,” according to him. Yet only two years previously, Ross called on the U.S. to “give Israel a big bomb” to “deter Iran,” noting that the “best way” to stop the Iranian nuclear program was to supply Israel with its own nukes, thereby taken as a given that Iran was indeed pursuing nuclear weapons itself (a highly questionable claim at the time) and ignoring Israel’s already existing 200+ stockpile of nuclear missiles.

“It doesn’t seem like UANI ever really took seriously the possibility of a diplomatic means to constrain Iran from continuing to increase its enrichment levels and moving towards a nuclear weapon,” Clifton told MintPress. “As a matter of fact, they generally fought tooth and nail against the JCPOA. They are eager to push the United States toward confrontation with Iran using the possibility of Iranian nuclear weapons as a reason,” he added.

UANI’s funders certainly also have extensive connections to Israel. Kaplan is the son-in-law of Israeli billionaire Leon Recanati and is said to be close with Prime Ministers Naftali Bennet and Yair Lapid. He has also employed a number of Israeli officials at his businesses. An example of this is Olivia Blechner, who, in 2007, left her role as the Director of Academic Affairs at the Israeli Consulate General in New York to become Executive Vice-President of Investor Relations and Research at Kaplan’s Electrum Group – a rather perplexing career move.

Adelson, meanwhile, was given what amounted to an official state funeral in Israel, one that even Prime Minister Netanyahu attended. He was buried on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem – one of the holiest sites in Judaism and an honor that very few figures receive.


While United Against Nuclear Iran is already a notable enough organization, it is actually merely part of a large group of shadowy non-governmental groups working to cause unrest and, ultimately, regime change in Iran. These groups all share overlapping goals, funders and key individuals.

One example of this is the Counter Extremism Project (CEP), a non-profit that purports to exist to “combat the growing threat posed by extremist ideologies.” Yet the group focuses largely on Islamist extremism – and only those groups that are enemies of the U.S., Israel and the Gulf Monarchies (about whose extremism and violence the CEP has nothing to say). Ten members of the CEP’s leadership council are also on UANI’s board, including Wallace, who is CEO of both organizations.

Another group headed by Wallace is the Jewish Committee to Support Women Life Freedom in Iran. This organization claims to be focused on improving women’s rights in Iran. It very quickly, however, divulges that this is a vehicle for regime change. On its homepage, for example, it writes:

These freedom fighters continue with no sign of relenting on their calls for regime change. Calls for “Woman Life Freedom” and the removal of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei echo from rooftops, down street corridors, across campus hallways, and on government billboards. These brave Iranians have expressed their hatred for the ruling clerics not only in their words, but in their actions.”

Seven members of the Jewish Committee to Support Women Life Freedom in Iran’s steering group – including Wallace and Kaplan – also lead UANI.

Kaplan is well-known as a conservationist. However, his group, Panthera, which works to preserve the world’s 40 known species of big cats, has also been accused of being a secret regime change operation. Panthera has a number of UANI officials on its board or conservation council, including Wallace and Lamb (the ex-director of U.K. Special Forces and Commander of the British Army). Also on the council are Itzhak Dar, former Director of the Israeli Secret Service, Shin Bet, and General David Petraeus, former CIA Director and Commander of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan.

In 2018, Iranian authorities arrested eight individuals working with Panthera inside the country. All eight were convicted of spying on behalf of the U.S. and Israel. While many in the West decried the trials as politically motivated, any organization led by these figures is bound to cause suspicions.

This is especially the case as Wallace is also a founder of PaykanArtCar, an organization that attempts to use art to, in its words, “advocate for the restoration of human rights and dignity for all in Iran.” All three team members of PaykanArtCar also work at UANI.

The final group in this Iran regime change network is the International Convention for the Future of Iran. Set up by Wallace himself, the organization’s website explains that it exists to “end the repression of the regime and bring true change to Iran.” Further purposes are to “connect the Iranian opposition in exile [i.e., the MEK] with policymakers in the United States and internationally” and to “offer program grants and technical support” to groups working to overthrow the government. However, judging by the lack of updates and the group’s Twitter profile having only 31 followers, it appears that it has not had much success achieving its goals.

In short, then, there exists a network of American NGOs with the mission statements of helping Iran, opposing Iran, preserving Iran, and bombing Iran, all staffed by largely the same ex-U.S. government officials.

But United Against Nuclear Iran is eager to escalate the situation to a vastly greater level [than the present sanctions regime], urging Washington to attack a well-armed country of nearly 90 million people, erroneously claiming that Iran is behind every Hamas or Hezbollah action. “This is not a nuclear non-proliferation organization” Clifton said, noting that there are plenty of genuine already existing peace and environmental groups worried about nuclear weapons that either supported the JCPOA or said it did not go far enough. “Their focus is more on working towards regime change in Iran rather than actually supporting efforts that might prevent Iranian nuclear weapons,” he added.

IF UANI gets its way, a conflict with Iran might spark a Third World War. And yet they are receiving virtually no pushback to their ultra-hawkish pronouncements, largely because they operate in the shadows and receive virtually no public scrutiny. It is, therefore, imperative for all those who value peace to quickly change that and expose the organization for what it is.

Alan MacLeod is Senior Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017, he published two books, Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent, as well as a number of academic articles. He has also contributed to FAIR.orgThe GuardianSalonThe GrayzoneJacobin Magazine, and Common Dreams.