The only people surprised by this work in the White House or at Foggy Bottom, of course. Earlier this week, the UK informed the UN that Iran continues to violate non-proliferation agreements and UN sanctions by procuring uranium through two firms that the UN has already sanctioned. The Reuters exclusive dryly notes that this might become a trust issue during negotiations:
Britain has informed a United Nations sanctions panel of an active Iranian nuclear procurement network linked to two blacklisted firms, according to a confidential report by the panel seen by Reuters.
The existence of such a network could add to Western concerns over whether Tehran can be trusted to adhere to a nuclear deal due by June 30 in which it would agree to restrict sensitive nuclear work in exchange for sanctions relief.
Gee, you think? Barack Obama and John Kerry both keep insisting that the deal won’t be based on trust, but on verification. The deal will still lift sanctions, though, while supposedly verifying compliance. We are now less than two months away from the supposed deadline for that deal, and Iran is still attempting to violate those sanctions and procure uranium illegally. That’s verification of their desire to cheat and produce nuclear fuel secretly, which won’t be necessary for peaceful uses of uranium under the deal.
In other words, Iran wants the bomb, and it’s going to cheat before, after, and during negotiations for a deal. Most people would take that as verification of the futility in attempting to deal with the mullahs and their henchmen, but Obama and Kerry want a deal more than they want to keep Iran from going nuclear.
Meanwhile, Fareed Zakaria wonders whether Iran’s hardliners will derail the deal. Thomas Erdbrink gently reminds him that in a theocracy with a supreme ruler, the term “hardliners” is a rather useless concept:
What’s not to like for the hardliners, anyway? They protest now as a kind of theater for Western media, but they’ll shortly have all the sanctions lifted and a clear path to nuclear weapons. Besides, as Erdbrink reminds Zakaria, they’ll do as they’re told when it matters. That’s how Supreme Leaders roll.