A UN panel says that the White House and other Western governments have neglected to report Iranian violations of the sanctions regime.
“The current situation with reporting could reflect a general reduction of procurement activities by the Iranian side or a political decision by some member states to refrain from reporting to avoid a possible negative impact on ongoing negotiations” between Iran and the P5+1, the UN panel said in its June 1 report, and made public today.
“This is a clear political decision not to publicize these examples of sanctions evasion in order to ensure that public reporting on this doesn’t in any way jeopardize the talks or harden congressional resolve,” executive director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies Mark Dubowitz told Bloomberg Business. “The Obama administration has bent over backwards to try and whitewash Iranian violations both on the nuclear side and also on the sanction-busting side.”
A possibility raised in an AP piece this afternoon is that the White House has put itself in a position where it has no choice but to look the other way. As Matt Lee and Bradley Klapper report, it will be very difficult for the White House to disentangle the nuclear-related sanctions on Iran from other sanctions, like those related to terrorism, or ballistic missile research. The Iranian Central Bank, as the article explains, may prove the most glaring example of the administration's dilemma.
The bank underpins Iran's entire economy, and for years the U.S. avoided hitting it with sanctions, fearing such action would spread financial instability and spike oil prices. By late 2011, with Iran's nuclear program advancing rapidly, Obama and Congress did order penalties, declaring the bank a "primary money laundering concern" and linking its activity to ballistic missile research, terror financing and support for Syrian President Bashar Assad.
The effects were far-reaching. Petroleum exports fell by 60 percent, Iran suffered runaway inflation, cash reserves dried up and industrial output in several sectors plummeted. And Iran agreed to talk about its nuclear program with the United States and five other world powers.
Now that the nuclear agreement is so close, Iran wants these sanctions lifted. And it is unclear how the United States and other Western powers could feasibly provide the economic benefits they've promised without easing conditions on the central bank.
Counter to the White House’s demurrals, eliminating the non-nuclear related sanctions would provide an enormous windfall for the clerical regime in Tehran and its regional allies, including Hezbollah and Iraqi Shiite terrorist groups with American blood on their hands.
Even the Obama administration acknowledges that Iran is up to a lot of mischief in the Middle East. Tehran is engaged in a sectarian conflict from Lebanon to Syria and Iraq that has recently come to include Yemen as another active front. However, the White House continues to insist, against all evidence, that the clerical regime’s aggression won’t increase when it gets a huge cash infusion from sanctions relief and an immediate $30 to $50 billion bonus, when (or if) it signs the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, aka the nuclear deal.
In a preview of Barack Obama's interview with Vice, the president of the United States says he's "embarassed" Republicans sent a letter to Iran:
"I’m embarrassed for them," says Obama in the preview. "For them to address a letter to the Ayatollah — who they claim is our mortal enemy — and their basic argument to them is, 'don’t deal with our president because you can’t trust him to follow through on an agreement.' It's close to unprecedented."
Last week, the Obama administration succeeded in pressuring Democrats to insist there not be a vote on the Senate floor in support of the Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2015 until after the March 24 deadline for negotiations with Tehran over its nuclear weapons program. Lacking the votes in the Senate to impose cloture, Republicans had little choice but to go along. But the delay is unfortunate.
In John Kerry's statement on President Obama's Cuba policy changes, the secretary of state doesn't simply suggest the policies in place for five and a half decades are outdated. He seems to be suggesting they were a failure from the start. And in doing so, he apparently misstates his own age at the time President Kennedy made one of the most well known presidential addresses in our nation's history, and certainly the most notable regarding Cuba.
Imagine for a moment that you are a Saudi, Emirati, Jordanian, or Israeli. Your main national security worry these days is Iran—Iran’s rise, its nuclear program, its troops fighting in Iraq and Syria, its growing influence from Yemen through Iraq and Syria to Lebanon.
Foreign Policy reports that the U.S. believes Iran is cheating on U.N. nuclear sanctions. "The United States has privately accused Iran of going on an international shopping spree to acquire components for a heavy-water reactor that American officials have long feared could be used in the production of nuclear weapons-grade plutonium," reports Colum Lynch.
It's heartening these days to see an outbreak of bipartisan seriousness, given how rare those instances have become. Herewith some excerpts from a statement delivered by Bob Menendez, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, at the committee’s December 3 hearing on “Dismantling Iran’s Nuclear Weapons Program,” which The Scrapbook enthusiastically cosigns: