How tough will the Obama administration be on Iran when it comes to holding them to the terms of a deal on nuclear development? If the track record on reporting sanctions violations gives any indication, we’re all in big trouble. Sanctions violations have become so brazen that even the United Nations wonders why other countries are not reporting Iran. They even have pictures showing the head of the Quds force flouting a travel ban to meet up with Tehran’s proxies, Bloomberg reports:
“The current situation with reporting could reflect a general reduction of procurement activities by the Iranian side or a political decision by some member states to refrain from reporting to avoid a possible negative impact on ongoing negotiations” between Iran and six world powers, said a panel of experts for the UN committee on Iran sanctions in its latest report, dated June 1 and made public Tuesday.
While the panel found that Iran “implemented its commitments” under an interim framework easing economic sanctions in return for curbs on its nuclear activities, the report raised questions about whether countries, including the U.S. and its European allies, have looked the other way on some sanctions violations.
No country reported that General Qassem Suleimani, commander of the elite Quds force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, violated a UN-mandated travel ban despite “a number of media reports with photographs and videos” showing him in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, “reportedly organizing and training militia and regular forces in those countries.” The report included examples of such photos.
The Quds force operates the proxies by which Iran invests in terrorism in the region. Thats why the UN placed a travel ban on Suleimani as part of the overall sanctions on Iran, a sanction that applied directly to their support for international terrorism. Nor is that the only blatant violation cited by the UN; Iran has also established a “nuclear procurement network” linked to UN-blacklisted firms, a violation that the UK did report.
In short, the UN report establishes that Iran intends on continuing its nuclear-weapons program and expanding its proxy terror operations. Why are other nations remaining silent about this? It seems as though Barack Obama isn’t alone in desiring his Neville Chamberlain moment. Small wonder that Israel has declined to quietly play the role of Czechoslovakia in this replay of Munich:
The report provides fresh ammunition for critics, including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and members of both parties in the U.S. Congress who say that President Barack Obama and America’s allies are too eager for a deal with Iran. The Islamic Republic, they say, is likely to cheat on any nuclear accord reached in negotiations that face a self-imposed June 30 deadline.
It’s not that they’re likely to cheat. Even the Obama administration admits that much, but their answer has been that the deal will have strict requirements for verification. That’s the problem. If the Obama administration won’t call out cheating that actually takes place now, why would anyone trust that they’ll call out violations that take place after a deal is cut — when those violations will make Obama and other world leaders look like saps?
Even if the Iranians don’t build a nuclear weapon, the lifting of sanctions will keep Suleimani et al busy enough spending the windfall of cash Iran will receive on expanded terror operations. Joint Chiefs chair Gen. Martin Dempsey told Israelis on his recent visit to expect that outcome, but they’ll just have to prepare for it:
U.S. General Martin Dempsey, on a visit to Israel, said he shared a core Israeli fear that sanctions relief for Iran following a nuclear agreement would allow Tehran to give more money to its military and its guerrilla proxies.
“My assessment is that I share their concern. If the deal is reached and results in sanctions relief … it’s my expectation that it’s not all going to flow into their economy,” he said.
“I think that they will invest in their surrogates. I think they will invest in additional military capability,” Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a small group of reporters in Jerusalem.
But Dempsey said the long-term prospects were “far better” with an Iran that was not a nuclear weapons power.
Sure, but that assumes that sanctions relief precludes nuclearization. That would only happen if the West provides dire consequences for violations of the deal. Given the track record, it looks much more likely that Iran will get both the cash and the nuclear weapons, prospects that are far worse than what we had a year ago, both in the near- and long-term.