As part of their attempt to sell the Iran deal as something other than a catastrophe for American and international peace and security, President Obama and John Kerry are now invoking the United Nations. The Obama administration raced straight from Vienna to the Security Council, awaiting nothing from Capitol Hill. What’s going on?
It has now been 4,397 days – dating to June 2003 – since the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) first reported that Iran was in breach of its legal obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
It took another three years for the United States to get the matter before the Security Council. What followed between 2006 and 2010 were six hard-fought Council resolutions that managed to avoid a Russian and Chinese veto. Four of those resolutions contained sanctions provisions.
These resolutions did not stop Iran from proceeding apace with its plan to acquire nuclear weapons. But they were a universal statement that Iran was a pariah state. It was in breach of fundamental international law – duties essential for preventing nuclear war – and legitimately subject to sanctions until such time as there was independent, reliable verification that it fully complied.
Obama’s Iran deal changes all that. Why?
On July 14, the president explained, "Without this deal there would be no agreed-upon limitations for the Iranian nuclear program.” And the next day, he ridiculed “the alternative, no limits on Iran's nuclear program, no inspections.”
This is patently false. The last council Iran sanctions resolution, 1929, adopted on June 9, 2010, requires the IAEA to report “on whether Iran has established full and sustained suspension of all activities” that were set out in prior sanctions resolutions.
After receiving a report, Resolution 1929 set up the following scenario for lifting sanctions, temporarily or permanently. It says, the council:
“shall review Iran’s actions in light of the report… and: (a) …it shall suspend the implementation of measures if…Iran suspends all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities, including research and development, as verified by the IAEA, … (b)…it shall terminate the [sanction] measures…as soon as it determines… that Iran has fully complied with its obligations under the relevant resolutions of the Security Council and met the requirements of the IAEA Board of Governors…”
So has Iran satisfied the conditions for suspending or terminating the Security Council resolutions? The answer is a resounding no – from the mouth of the IAEA itself.
On May 29, 2015, the IAEA produced a report on Iran that lays out – for the umpteenth time – “Iran is conducting a number of activities…which are in contravention of its obligations to suspend all enrichment related activities and heavy water related projects.”
Why would the Security Council sanctions resolutions suddenly disappear when they specifically require Iranian compliance that has not been forthcoming? The answer is: they wouldn’t. The council sanctions only disintegrate if the Obama administration does the leg work for Iran and has them rescinded.
And yet Secretary Kerry lectured the deal’s non-believers in Vienna: “United Nations Resolution 1929…says specifically that if Iran comes to negotiate – not even get a deal, but comes to negotiate – sanctions would be lifted.”
Sanctions Resolution 1929 says no such thing. Sanctions get lifted if, and only if, the IAEA verifies Iran has suspended all enrichment-related and other activities – which the IAEA has not done (and will never do under the agreement).