By acting to lift sanctions on Iran ahead of schedule and despite evidence of Tehran’s non-compliance, the U.S. is sending a dangerous message.
Yesterday, the Obama administration let drop a salient fact about its policy toward Iran. At a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Stephen Mull, the administration’s coordinator for implementation of the Iran nuclear deal confirmed that the U.S. plans on lifting sanctions as early as January. This is way ahead of the schedule that Secretary of State John Kerry mooted when he was trying to persuade Congress to back the deal earlier this year. At that time, the spring of 2016 was the earliest we were told sanctions would be lifted since the Western nations that had signed the accord wanted to wait until Iran had fully complied with its components before starting to reward them with new business opportunities. But apparently President Obama and Kerry are simply too impatient to embrace their Iranian negotiating partners to wait until we see how Iran behaves for a few months under the deal’s inspection regime.
Kerry sent a letter to the Senate averring that Iran was fully complying with every part of the deal. Since they’re supposedly doing what they should, the administration thinks there’s no harm in rewarding them. But this eagerness seemed to put off even the Democratic members of the committee. Delaware Senator Chris Coons, who loyally backed President Obama’s initiative vainly said something about a policy in which the U.S. would “relentless enforce” the deal. Ranking member Ben Cardin, who was one of the few Democrats to oppose the pact, vainly asked what was the rush? The only answer he got was a reassurance from Mull was that Iran was being very good.
But, of course, we know that the happy talk about Iran coming from the State Department should be taken with a truckload of salt. Iran has already violated a key provision of the nuclear deal package when it conducted not one, but two tests of advanced ballistic missiles that could deliver a potential nuclear weapon to an Israeli target. This expressly violated United Nations restrictions on their missile program as even the U.S. noted. But Iran didn’t even bother trying to hide their behavior.
Just this week, Iran’s Defense Minister Hossein Deghan boasted nothing would deter the Islamist regime from doing whatever it liked with respect to its weapons programs. He said they would not accept any limitations on its missiles and wouldn’t be deterred from testing them.
The U.S. has said it would respond to these violations but so far, that has amounted to exactly nothing.
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