Tehran Violates U.N. Sanctions – what will Congress do?

Republicans Wallop U.S. Over Nuclear Deal as Tehran Violates U.N. Sanctions
State Department pushes back on Foreign Policy magazine report implying United States silent on Iran’s efforts to equip nuclear facility with the potential to produce plutonium.

UPDATE By Omri Ceren, TIP

The US has been regularly (!) going go the United Nations with concerns over Iran’s efforts to illicitly procure equipment of their atomic program. Now Congress wants to know why those efforts don’t count as JPOA violations:

At the heart of the dispute between congressional critics of Iran and the State Department is that a landmark November 2013 interim nuclear deal between Iran and the so-called P5+1… does not specifically prohibit Tehran from engaging in a range of activities that have been banned by the U.N. Security Council… that means that the Obama administration can correctly maintain that Iran is in compliance with the pact even while Tehran continues to flout long-standing Security Council resolutions… the State Department found itself in the awkward position of having to defend Tehran’s record of compliance with the interim pact.

There’s uncertainty because the public doesn’t actually know what Iran’s JPOA obligations are. The specifics are only detailed in secret side agreements. All the public knows is what’s on the factsheet that the White House published last November. The wording on that factsheet was pretty definitive though: Iran committed “to halt progress on its plutonium track.”

This debate goes one of two ways:

(1) The Iranians did violate the JPOA, because trying to procure parts for their plutonium factory counts as a failure “to halt progress on its plutonium track.”
(2) The Iranians didn’t violate the JPOA, because the deal has such gigantic loopholes that it allows Tehran to obtain parts for a reactor that administration officials have sworn up and down the Iranians will never be allowed to keep.

Either option will trigger calls for new Congressional oversight and sanctions.

If it’s #1, the administration will be pressed to make good on explicit commitments to pass sanctions if the Iranians get caught cheating. If it’s #2, the administration is going to have a difficult time convincing lawmakers that the Iranian program is “frozen,” which is the entire basis for extending talks in the absence of new sanctions.

December 11, 2014 | Comments »

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