He and Kerry worked with Tehran to excuse and ‘exempt’ its flouting of its commitments.
Iran “has fully implemented its required commitments.” That was the representation Obama secretary of state John Kerry made to the American people in announcing on January 16 — “Implementation Day” of President Obama’s Iran nuclear deal (aka, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA) — that international economic sanctions were consequently being lifted against Iran.
Secretary Kerry added that “Iran has undertaken significant steps that many, and I do mean many, people doubted would ever come to pass.” Still, Kerry promised, the Obama administration would continue watching the mullahs like a hawk, thus “assuring continued full compliance” with the regime’s JCPOA commitments.
The same day, President Obama signed an executive order lifting a number of U.S. economic sanctions against Iran. We now know he also set in motion a furtive $400 million cash transfer to the regime as a ransom (which the administration calls “leverage”) for the release of four American hostages — the first installment of a carefully structured $1.7 billion side payment to Iran (ostensibly in settlement of a failed 1970s arms deal), details about which the administration continues to withhold from Congress and the public.
All of this was based on this purported “full implementation” of Iran’s “required commitments” under the JCPOA touted by Obama and Kerry. And all of it was a deliberate, audacious, elaborately plotted lie.
The Institute for Science and International Security (hereafter, the Institute) reported on Thursday that Iran was not in full compliance with its JCPOA commitments on Implementation Day, as was required — we were led to believe — before Iran was to get sanctions relief. What’s more, the Obama administration not only well knew that Iran was not in compliance; it also colluded with Iran, through the secretive JCPOA device known as the “Joint Commission,” in order to exempt Iran’s multiple violations from compliance requirements.
Got it? As Obama and Kerry were telling you that Iran had “fully implemented its required commitments,” and that the administration would continue working energetically to ensure future continued “full compliance” with those commitments, Obama and Kerry were working with Iran to excuse its flouting of its commitments — and, it turns out, to lay the groundwork for future “exemptions” from compliance.
The Institute’s report outlines violations in connection with Iran’s commitment to a cap of 300 kilograms of low-enriched uranium (LEU) and with some of the near–20 percent LEU that Iran was allowed to keep, as well as with the heavy-water cap and large “hot cells” that Iran was also permitted to retain.
It was known to the administration, in advance of Implementation Day, that these violations meant that Iran’s nuclear stocks and facilities would not be in compliance. But Obama feared calling Iran on its violations. That would have put pressure on him to deny sanctions relief, which would in turn have induced the jihadist regime to pull out of the JCPOA. So, to bury the mockery the mullahs were making of his signature “achievement,” Obama turned to the JCPOA-created farce known as the “Joint Commission,” a body composed of representatives of the deal’s six parties, whose machinations are shrouded in secrecy.
With Iran certain to be in violation, the Institute explains, the Joint Commission convened and quietly exempted the regime from its JCPOA commitments. Kerry and Obama then went out and told Americans and the world that Iran had met its commitments. It appears that this was yet another secret side arrangement that Congress has been kept in the dark about.
The conspiracy to depict a fraudulent “agreement” while ensuring that Iran gets the benefits without performing its obligations has been evident for months. As Fred Fleitz of the Center for Security Policy reported here at National Review back in March, the administration furtively acceded to Iran’s demand that the International Atomic Energy Agency would no longer provide broad reporting on Iran’s nuclear program. The risible explanation? Thanks to the magnificent JCPOA and Iran’s purported compliance with it, exacting IAEA scrutiny was no longer necessary. It would be sufficient, the IAEA claimed, simply to monitor Iran’s compliance with the JCPOA terms.
If you feel like your intelligence has been insulted, it has: The IAEA knew, when it made this claim, that Iran’s non-compliance with the JCPOA was being “exempted” by the Obama administration. But what we now know goes a long way toward explaining a curious development that Fred highlighted in his March report: the IAEA’s omission of critical data in its JCPOA compliance reports. This rendered it impossible for independent experts to assess whether Iran was truly keeping its commitments and deserving of sanctions relief, as the Obama administration publicly insisted it was.
The reports were being kept vague because the administration’s representations, to repeat, were audacious lies.
But that’s not all. As the invaluable analyst Omri Ceren gleans from the Institute’s report, Obama is in discussions with other JCPOA parties to make the exemptions granted to Iran permanent — in other words, to let Iran rewrite the agreement so that its violations are no longer violations but entitlements. Not just that: Obama is also planning yet more exemptions, in anticipation of yet more Iranian violations.
All the while, of course, the president and his secretary of state will keep telling us Iran is keeping its commitments. And why shouldn’t they? After all, there really are no commitments when transgressions are agreed on and forgiven in advance — lest Iran walk away. That’s not an agreement. It’s an extortion racket.
To summarize, under the JCPOA, Iran gets paid, gets to keep materially supporting terrorism, gets to build its industrial-size nuclear program, gets to develop ballistic missiles in anticipation of loading nuclear payloads, gets to narrow the “breakout” time necessary to convert to weapons-grade the uranium that Obama is helping them enrich, and gets to run roughshod over any terms it finds too inconvenient.
What does the United States get? A devious, enemy-empowering, post-American president waving around his legacy “agreement” as the international press swoons, the armed forces of the jihadist regime menace the United States Navy, and the world edges closer to war.
— Andrew C. McCarthy is as senior policy fellow at the National Review Institute and a contributing editor of National Review.