|Iranian ballistic missile with "Israel must be erased from the face of the earth" in Hebrew and Farsi|
There have been some very serious developments in Obama administration abandoning previously stated red lines in the Iran deal.
Eli Lake at Bloomberg View wrote up a nice summary, and his conclusion is that the deal itself was never finalized and Iran has been changing it in its favor ever since, while the White House has acquiesed:
Like most of Washington, I was under the impression that the nuclear negotiations with Iran ended in July. There was the press conference in Vienna, the U.N. resolution that lifted the sanctions on Iran and the fight in Congress that followed. That turns out to have been wrong.
I should have been more suspicious when no one actually had to sign anything at the end of the negotiations or when the "deal" was not submitted to the Senate as a treaty for ratification. And while it's true that the Iranians have disposed of nuclear material, modified sites and allowed more monitoring, they also keep haggling over the terms.But the US has caved on the dollar transactions (with a fig-leaf of doing it through third countries.)
Now, according to an Associated Press report, the Obama administration is considering a rule change to allow some Iranian businesses to use off shore financial institutions to access U.S. dollars in currency trades. When the White House sold it to Congress, senior Treasury officials promised the nuclear agreement would not allow such dollar transactions, since Iran's financial system has been repeatedly designated as a concern for money laundering. It was not part of the "deal" that was agreed in July, which only lifted nuclear related sanctions on Iran, but kept in place other sanctions to punish the country's support for terrorism, human rights abuses and its ballistic missile program.
And that's not the only thing that the US has allowed Iran to change.
Lake mentions two others.
Over the summer, Secretary of State John Kerry told Congress that the U.N. resolution that ended international sanctions on Iran's nuclear program would nonetheless retain language that prohibited Iran from testing ballistic missiles. And yet a March 28 letter from the U.S. and the European Union to the U.N. Secretary General this week conspicuously declined to call Iran's recent ballistic missile tests a "violation" of that resolution.And that wasn't even the first:
This caught the attention of Rep. Mike Pompeo and two of his fellow Republican House members, Pete Roskam and Lee Zeldin. In a letter to Kerry sent Thursday, they write, "The seeming American refusal to name these Iranian tests as violations is in direct conflict with the administration’s earlier commitments."
The White House sees it differently. This week Ben Rhodes, a deputy national security adviser for strategic communications told reporters that Iran's missile tests were not part of July's nuclear agreement, which is strange because most experts consider missiles that can deliver a nuclear weapon to be part of a country's nuclear program.
Again, the Iranians have been firm on this point. There is barely a day that goes by when the country's leaders don't affirm that they have a sovereign right to test as many missiles as they choose. And in case the message wasn't clear, Iranian television made sure to broadcast images of those missiles emblazoned with Hebrew words that said "Israel must be wiped off the earth."
This pattern began over the summer when Obama himself assured Congress and the public that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) would have the ability to inspect any suspicious site that it wanted. The Iranians countered that their military facilities were off limits.
It turns out they were right. When the IAEA devised a plan to inspect Iran's Parchin facility, the Iranians refused international inspectors access and allowed only a ceremonial visit from the agency's director. The Iranians were allowed to collect their own site samples.
And there is another case where the US caved - in the scope of the IAEA's inspections regime. Iran has long insisted that it does not have to provide detailed information to the IAEA, and since the deal was finalized (but not signed,) the IAEA's subsequent report simply did not go into the details of its earlier ones.
Since no one has the stomach to reinstate sanctions as EU corporations flock to re-invest in Iran, it shows what critics of the deal have said all along: Iran is in the driver's seat and the US is meekly allowing it to dictate the terms of the deal. And there is no indication that this pattern will be reversed with the current administration.
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