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.
In the aftermath of Benjamin Netanyahu's inconvenient (to Barack Obama) victory in the Israeli election, it looks like the administration is heading towards exacting revenge. The administration's threat is that under President Obama the United States will "join the jackals"—the permanent, global, virulently anti-Israel caucus at the United Nations. The phrase comes from the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who knew a thing or two about Israel-hatred at the U.N.
A new law introduced in Congress seeks to prevent foreign diplomats and employees of the United Nations from receiving taxpayer-funded Obamacare subsidies. The bill has been introduced in the House of Representatives by Republicans Ed Royce and Paul Ryan.
In a Saturday night letter from President Obama's chief of staff Denis McDonough to Senate Foreign Relations Committee chair Bob Corker, the White House confirmed that in fact the United Nations will play a key role in any nuclear deal that may be reached with Iran.
"The United Nations Security Council will also have a role to play in any deal with Iran," McDonough writes, after urging Congress not to pass a bill related to the nuclear negotiations.
The big speech last week was, of course, the one given before Congress by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. It was a forceful performance. Nancy Pelosi said that she was so dismayed by both the style and the substance of the prime minister’s speech that she was nearly reduced to tears.
While the attention of much of the world Sunday was focused on the massive unity rally in France in response to the recent terror attacks in that country, Secretary of State John Kerry was in India for a "global business" summit where he spoke of, among other concerns, the "one enormous cloud hanging over all of us which requires responsibility from leaders.
I hereby nominate Dick Cheney's answer to Chuck Todd's question about a United Nations official who's called for the criminal prosecution of U.S. interrogators, as the 2014 Sunday Show Answer of the Year:
CHENEY: I have little respect for the United Nations, or for this individual, who doesn't have a clue and had absolutely no responsibility for safeguarding this nation and going after the bastards that killed 3,000 Americans on 9/11.
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.
Last week was good for environmentalists, and perhaps even for the environment. President Obama doubled down on his effort to increase the likelihood of the success of the 2015 UN climate change conference in Paris, claiming the U.S. has “a special responsibility to lead. That’s what great nations do.” He took the occasion of the UN meetings in New York to put the heat on China, the world’s largest polluter, to match the steps the U.S. is taking to reduce its CO2 emissions.
In Manhattan last Tuesday afternoon, The Scrapbook discovered what it’s like to get close to the president, and it stinks. We also now understand how to assemble a huge crowd to admire a presidential motorcade: You simply close 40 blocks of one of the busiest streets in the world. With typical attention to detail, the closure was scheduled for the beginning of rush hour, from about 5:00 to 5:30 p.m.
President Obama’s speech to the UN General Assembly touched very lightly on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. That alone is a step forward: in previous years, he has made it a central part of his speech and left the impression that it is the main issue in world affairs.