Despite pledges to push back against Iran’s destabilizing actions, during an interview on Tuesday, Secretary of State John Kerry revealed that there would be no snapback of sanctions should the regime violate the arms embargo. The framework agreement reached in April stated that restrictions on conventional arms will stay in place and administration officials previously insisted that the deal was solely “a transaction on the nuclear issue.” However, as part of the final deal, the P5+1 agreed to end the UN arms embargo on Iran in 5 years, possibly earlier.Tehran has consistently violated the U.N. arms embargo and missile sanctions. Iran has been sending missiles to the Lebanon-based terrorist group Hezbollah and has provided Hamas with rockets including Fajr-5 missiles. Iran's senior nuclear negotiator Abbas Araqchi indicated that Iran would continue to defy the arms embargo, stating explicitly, "whenever it’s needed to send arms to our allies in the region, we will do so. We are not ashamed of it."
The Obama administration has repeatedly insisted that the US will double down on its efforts to work with allies and push back against Iran’s nefarious activities in the region. However, several analysts have pointed out that the administration will be less likely to counter Iranian aggression after the deal. Former advisor at the Department of State Aaron David Miller has stated, “we’ve acquiesced to Iran’s egregious behavior at home and abroad, and I suspect we will continue to do so during implementation [of the deal].”
Kerry has argued that the US has other mechanisms to fight arms transfers to Iranian proxies. However, former senior advisor for Middle East affairs at the National Security Council Michael Singh has argued that “these measures have been poorly enforced and seem likely to be weakened further, not strengthened, by this agreement… there is more reason to believe that Iran's regional activities will increase rather than diminish.” Director of the Military and Security Studies Program at the Washington Institute Michael Eisenstadt asserted that the US is unlikely to interdict arms transfers “because doing so could cause Iran to blow up the deal.” Some have cast doubt on the ability to snap back or impose any additional sanctions on Iran, because of a clause in the agreement stating that “if sanctions are reinstated in whole or in part, Iran will treat that as grounds to cease performing its commitments under this JCPOA in whole or in part.”
Last week, President Barack Obama said that it was not a difficult decision to endorse the agreement. I couldn’t disagree more. This is an extraordinarily difficult decision, and the president’s case would be more compelling if he stopped minimizing the agreement’s weaknesses and exaggerating its benefits. If he believes that the deal “permanently prohibits Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon,” as he said in his speech at American University last Wednesday, then he should take another look at the agreement, whose restrictions end suddenly after 15 years, with some of the constraints on uranium enrichment melting away after just 10.
Overstating the case for the agreement belies the gravity of the issue and does more to breed distrust than win support. Smearing critics is even less effective. In his speech, the president suggested that critics of the deal are the same people who argued for the war in Iraq. The message wasn’t very subtle: Those who oppose the agreement are warmongers. (Of course, those who voted for the Iraq War resolution in 2002 include Obama’s vice president and secretary of state.) …
The White House’s behavior is especially disappointing given the way the negotiations unfolded. Every negotiation comes with give-and-take. This one was no exception. Significant concessions were made at the last moment, including on ballistic missiles and arms. These were surprising changes and they come with large implications that require careful scrutiny.
Bloomberg brought up the public pillorying of Sen. Chuck Schumer (D – N.Y.), who announced last week that he would oppose the deal. Instead of respecting Schumer’s difference of opinion, “the president’s spokesperson and others close to the White House suggested that Schumer’s decision may cost him the opportunity to become the leader of the Senate’s Democratic caucus” after the retirement of Sen. Harry Reid (D – Nev.). Instead, Bloomberg wrote, the White House should have acknowledged the fact that President Barack Obama had signed legislation that gave Congress the role of reviewing the deal. How one votes, according to Bloomberg, ” is far bigger than partisan politics.”
Bloomberg also took issue with the president’s argument that Congress should support the deal because “the vast majority of the world” does, writing that “Congress should not act based on the opinion of the rest of the world.” Bloomberg called on Congress to “make its own hard and careful assessment of the agreement,” noting that it cannot fully do so until it has access to all of the related side deals.
In his first public comments since announcing his opposition to the deal, Schumer said Monday that the U.S. should go back to the negotiating table to “get a better deal” with Iran. (via TheTower.org)