On Monday Iran demanded that the UN lift its arms embargo as part of a deal on its nuclear program with the P5+1. UN Resolutions 1747 and 1929 forbid Iran from exporting arms and forbid other countries from supplying major arms to Iran. Iran regularly violates these UN resolutions, supplying its terrorist proxies and allies in the Middle East with weapons. Iran has sent arms to Hezbollah, Hamas, the Assad regime in Syria, and the Houthi rebels, who have overthrown the legitimate government in Yemen. The deadliest improvised explosive devices (IEDs) used against American soldiers by Shiite militias in Iraq were Iranian-made. Lifting the UN arms embargo may allow Tehran to expand its assistance to these groups and further destabilize the region. Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Ed Royce (R-CA) remarked Monday that Iran’s new demand demonstrates that Iran has “clearly been emboldened by the Administration’s concessions across the board.”In the event of a deal between the P5+1 and Iran, a new UN Security Council resolution will be passed, endorsing the agreement and lifting the ban on nuclear-related activities as well as nuclear-related sanctions. According to the White House factsheet on the framework agreement reached in Switzerland in April, “important restrictions on conventional arms and ballistic missiles… will also be incorporated” into the new UN resolution. However, Russia and China are reportedly supporting Iran’s demand to lift the arms embargo. Although U.S. officials have repeatedly stated that terror-, ballistic missile-, and human rights-related sanctions will remain imposed on Iran, a report last month by the AP indicated that the Obama administration was considering suspending some of these non-nuclear sanctions.
The Joint Plan of Action was extended from June 30th to July 7th so that negotiations could continue past the June 30th deadline. This is the third time negotiations to reach a deal have been extended. According to legislation passed last April, the Obama administration must submit any agreement to Congress for review. Some officials have indicated that the deal may not be completed by Tuesday.
Top lawmakers, military analysts, and media outlets are broadly suggesting that coziness between the Obama administration and Iranian officials will weaken the details and enforcement of whatever nuclear deal emerges from the negotiations in Vienna, Austria. Concerns began to openly surface as the latest talks commenced, with both the Associated Press (AP) and The Wall Street Journal publishing extensive exposés on efforts by the White House to achieve and lock in rapprochement with the Iranians, despite much-repeated claims from the administration that it was not trying to boost the Iranian regime.
The AP outlined a marked shift in Washington’s approach to Tehran, culminating in coziness despite ongoing Iranian efforts to undermine American influence geostrategically and ongoing displays of hostility toward the United States – including regular chants of “Death to America” – led by top Iranian figures. The Journal subsequently revealed (Google link) that the Obama administration had begun seeking reconciliation with the Iranians from the start of President Obama’s first term. Part of those efforts included releasing Iranian arms dealers and aligning against organizations that the Iranians considered hostile.
This dynamic threatens to trigger a political backlash in Congress. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have been vocal in demanding that the administration take a tougher line with the Iranians and have criticized U.S. negotiators for failing to do so.
Ed Royce (R-Calif.), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, has recently compared the emerging deal to that forged with North Korea in 1994, under which the North Koreans eventually went nuclear. Chairman Royce’s comments came a few days after former CIA Director Michael Hayden declared in an interview on Fox News Sunday that he fears that Iran has the “upper hand right now.” Last week Rep. Ted Deutch (D – Fla.) said that the United States should “turn up the pressure” on Iran.
U.S.-Iranian coziness is also likely to have geopolitical and diplomatic ramifications. Washington’s traditional Arab and Israeli allies are both known to fear the consequences of an agreement, including a likely $150 billion financial windfall that the Iranians could channel toward their military infrastructure. Leaders of the Gulf states already see Iran “virtually controlling Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Yemen, and grasping for power almost everywhere else,” according to Jon Alterman, Senior Vice President and Director of the Middle East Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. (via TheTower.org)