Echoing experts and regional allies alarmed by the impact of the emerging deal with Iran, the US State Department admitted that it is concerned that “some of the resulting sanctions relief could be used by Iran to fund destabilizing actions.” Previously, the Obama administration downplayed the impact of sanctions relief, arguing that Tehran’s “priority will be to use those resources to address the persistent economic problems in their country.” The State Department considers Iran “the world’s foremost state sponsor of terrorism.” Hezbollah, Hamas, and the Assad regime all stand to gain from additional funds from Iran.
According to Tim Mak, writing for the Daily Beast, both the administration and its critics believe that the released funds will probably not be repatriated. This increases the likelihood that they will be transferred to terrorist proxies. Hudson Institute Senior Fellow, Michael Doran, argues that the funds are “just ready cash… so you can start distributing it abroad very easily.”
In spite of concerns that the Iranian regime will increase its support for terrorism worldwide, the administration is reportedly considering weakening the arms embargo on Iran. UN Resolutions 1747 and 1929 forbid Iran from exporting arms and forbid other countries from supplying major arms to Iran. Tehran has insisted that the UN lift the arms embargo as part of a deal on its nuclear program with the P5+1. Russia and China are supporting Iran’s new demand, as they want to sell more arms to Iran. Bloomberg Business characterized an administration official’s remarks as indicating that “while an arms embargo should be retained, its nature and duration were subject to negotiation.” The Los Angeles Times reported that an anonymous administration official “declined to say if they [arms restrictions] would be as comprehensive as those now in place.” Easing the UN arms embargo may allow Tehran to expand its assistance to terror groups and acquire more sophisticated arms.
Mr. Ceren notes that the Iranians, in a briefing earlier today in Vienna, offered a sketch of “what military-related restrictions will be lifted” that is “in tension with how the Americans have been describing the deal.” Mr. Ceren reckons those differences “will have to be overcome, and they won’t be in the next few days.” He thinks there’s a “low probability” that the gaps “might still be too significant to even colorably announce a deal, and the parties would extend the interim agreement all the way through the summer.”
It’s Mr. Ceren’s estimate that such an option would be “more attractive to the Obama administration than taking another 2 or 3 weeks.” Writes he: “If the administration sends Congress a deal after July 9 then the Corker clock — how long a deal sits in front of Congress — goes from 30 days to 60 days. But if they get all the way through the summer, it goes back down to 30 days. The administration has obvious reasons to prefer that.” So Mr. Ceren figures that the most likely outcome this week will be a “non-agreement agreement.”
Under that oxymoron, the parties would “announce they’ve resolved all outstanding issues but they still have to fill in some details.” Here is how Mr. Ceren characterizes it: “The P5+1 and Iran would move in parallel to implement various commitments, and the Iranians would in particular have to work with the IAEA on its unresolved concerns regarding Iran’s weapons program.” He foresees, come winter, the IAEA providing “a face-saving way for the parties to declare Iran is cooperating” and a deal would “officially begin.”
According to Ceren, the administration could present an Iranian commitment to answer all of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) questions as fulfillment of its obligations to Congress. The problem with this scenario is that “after Congress votes, if the Iranians jam up the IAEA but demand relief anyway, lawmakers will have no leverage to stop the administration from caving.”
The details and assessment outlined in Ceren’s reporting, the editorial observes, illustrate “why these columns have, from the get-go, opposed the opening of these talks.” The Israel Project publishes The Tower. (via TheTower.org)