An Agreement Written In Tehran

REUTERS/US State Department/Handout via Reuters

Kenneth Timmerman President, Foundation for Democracy in Iran
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It’s hard to imagine a worse agreement than the one presented by President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry as their “peace in our time” deal to limit Iran’s nuclear programs.

At every step, in every article and detail, the U.S. allowed Iranian regime negotiators to write the rules and codify restrictions that allow Iran to wriggle out of its commitments at virtually any moment it feels that the United States has not provided enough sanctions relief.

Because that is what this agreement is all about: lifting the comprehensive, enormously effective sanctions put in place patiently and with international consensus since 2005, sanctions that cut Iran’s oil exports in half, drove inflation to 60 percent, cut growth, crashed the currency, and were beginning to generate widespread popular discontent that threatened the survival of the regime.

No wonder President Hassan Rouhani, in his speech to the Iranian people on Tuesday, said “our prayers have been answered.” (Oh, and he went on to say that the prayers of Hamas and Hezbollah had also been answered, presumably because they soon will be receiving fresh funds and rockets from Tehran).

Of this 159 page text, 90 pages are devoted to spelling out exactly how much, how far, and how thoroughly the U.S. and its partners will remove sanctions on Iran and release frozen assets. These pages are written in stone, with no wriggle room for a reluctant Congress.

Another nine pages describe commitments by the P5+1 to help Iran expand its “peaceful” nuclear infrastructure, including a sweeping agreement to transfer nuclear goods, technology, and services, and to provide technical assistance and even loans so Iran can build a new heavy water reactor.

Iran’s commitments to limit its nuclear activities are contained in approximately 30 pages, but these commitments are heavily conditioned. For example, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which is the sole authority allowed to conduct inspections in Iran, must provide up to 14 days notice if it seeks to visit a site where it believes Iran is conducting illicit nuclear activities, and must reveal critical intelligence information to Iranian regime authorities before it can even discuss a special inspection.

Under the agreement, Iran can still object and stall for additional time, after which the dispute gets referred to a “Joint Commission” where Iran sits along with China and Russia.

For good measure the agreement bans U.S. persons from IAEA inspection teams, at least until a time when the U.S. has resumed diplomatic ties with Tehran. Now that’s a tough verification plan!

In addition, Iran is allowed to continue enriching uranium, to build new generation enrichment centrifuges, to work on gaseous diffusion enrichment with Western, Russian and Chinese assistance, and to sign joint venture agreements, potentially funded with European Union export credits, to build new uranium mines and process yellowcake. It will also build a new heavy water nuclear reactor with foreign assistance, most likely from Russia and/or China.

Secretary Kerry was mindful of Congress while drafting key provisions of this agreement, which are designed to put the onus on Congress if it refuses at any point to go along with this beatification of a terrorist state.

Let’s say, for example, that the Director of National Intelligence reports to Congress that Iran is cheating on the agreement and developing a nuclear warhead at a secret underground facility, and that Congress decides to “snap back” some of the sanctions removed under the agreement.

After all, that’s what the President and Secretary Kerry have been saying from the get-go. This will be a “tough” agreement, with “tough” restrictions on Iran, because the U.S. and its partners can “snap back” sanctions at any time the Iranians renege on the deal.

Actually, if that happens, Section 1, paragraph 26, specifically lets Iran off the hook. Once sanctions are removed under the agreement, “Iran has stated that it will treat such a re-introduction or re-imposition of the sanctions… as grounds to cease performing its commitments under this JCPOA in whole or in part.”

The administration’s contempt for our elected officials doesn’t stop with Congress. Mindful of a growing number of states and even local governments (including New York City) that have passed divestment laws to prevent public employee pension funds from owning shares in companies that do business with terrorist states such as the Islamic Republic of Iran, the agreement commits the U.S. government to “actively encourage officials at the state or local level to take into account the changes in the U.S. policy reflected in the lifting of sanctions under this MCPOA and to refrain from actions inconsistent with this change in policy.”

Since every page of this agreement makes clear that it dramatically and, in the eyes of the drafters, irrevocably changes U.S. policies, it is up to U.S. policy-makers in Congress to make sure it never gets implemented.

Secretary Kerry has told Congress and U.S. allies in the region that the administration was not seeking a “grand bargain” with Iran.

However, in a heated exchange with Senator Marco Rubio earlier this year, Kerry contradicted himself. While the U.S. was not seeking a “grand bargain,” he said, Iran wanted to destroy ISIS and had sent troops into Iraq for that purpose. “I think you are misreading it if you think there is not a mutual interest,” he lectured Rubio.

This agreement is, in fact, a grand bargain – one written solely in Tehran.

Tehran gives nothing when it comes to its overarching strategic objectives. Instead, it gets:

  • Western, Russian, and Chinese assistance to develop robust nuclear capabilities during the term of the agreement, let alone beyond;
  • The lifting of crippling international sanctions and as much as $140 billion in frozen assets released;
  • a U.S. blessing for its black market procurement and money-laundering capabilities, with the dismantling of an extremely effective effort by the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to identify and sanction those networks;
  • the dismantling of a broad network of U.S. laws and executive orders labeling and sanctioning Iran as a terrorist state;
  • a similar series of concessions from the European Union.

As I read through the 61 pages of Iranian government entities and front companies specifically identified to be removed from U.S. secondary sanctions, my jaw just kept on dropping.

Here are just a few examples of companies, individuals, and entities now “blessed” by the U.S. government, despite their ties to terrorist attacks:

  • the Islamic Revolution Guards Qods Force, responsible for taking U.S. hostages, plotting a 2011 terrorist attack in Washington, DC., as well as training, financing and supplying the Taliban and al Qaeda units in Iraq with deadly explosively-formed penetrators that have killed thousands of U.S. and Iraq troops as well as countless innocent civilians;
  • Lebanese terrorist Anis Naccache, the convicted murderer of former Iranian prime minister Shahpour Bakhtiar;
  • IRGC Brigadier General Ahmad Vahidi, wanted by Interpol and the FBI for his role in numerous international terrorist attacks, including the bombing of a USAF barracks in Dahran, Saudi Arabia that killed 19 U.S. servicemen;
  • Morteza Rezaie, the IRGC intelligence chief who is involved in virtually every IRGC terrorist operation;
  • General Mohammad Baqr Zolqadr, another IRGC general in charge of liaison with al Qaeda and Sunni terrorist groups;
  • General Rahim Safavi, commander of the IRGC;
  • Khatam al Anbiya Construction Headquarters, the IRGC’s sprawling industrial conglomerate, built on assets confiscated from Iranian exiles, that owns whole sectors of Iran’s economy and provides hard cash to clandestine Iranian networks overseas;
  • Rey Investment Company, REYCO GmbH, and the Execution of Imam Khomeini’s Orders, gigantic offshore investment networks controlled by the Supreme Leader;
  • Babak Zanjani, a notorious Iranian front man for former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, jailed since December 2013 for not turning over the keys for billions of dollars in black market oil transactions he claims to have carried out in the Far East and Dubai on behalf of the Iranian regime.

Also included for sanctions relief are a number of Iranian officials specifically identified by the U.S. Congress because of their involvement in murdering their own countrymen in horrific human rights abuses.

But my favorite of all is Qassem Suleymani, the former commander of the Qods Force, the overseas terrorist strike force of the IRGC, who recently has been spearheading IRGC operations inside Iraq. Why in the world would a U.S.-Iran nuclear agreement include taking this killer off the international sanctions list?

The scope of this administration’s capitulation to a terrorist regime that continues to hold American citizens hostage is simply staggering.

Congress must kill this deal while there is still time.