(/sites/default/files/uploads/2015/05/1.29.13-Ayatollah-Ali-Khamenei.jpg)President Barack Obama’s dubious assertions regarding a nuclear deal with Iran took another hit Wednesday. Russia’s UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told Bloomberg News the president’s promise regarding “snapback sanctions” if Iran cheats is essentially a pipe dream.“There can be no automaticity, none whatsoever,” the Ambassador stated without elaborating.
Thus the president’s assertion in April, “If Iran violates the deal, sanctions can be snapped back into place,” is revealed to be as reliable as his promises regarding ObamaCare. That was the same month Obama insisted restoring the international sanctions would not require a U.N. Security Council consensus, due to an informal compromise reached during negotiations in Lausanne, Switzerland. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, who had engaged in those negotiations, echoed that assertion, insisting “no one country could block the snapback.”
Such contentions are disingenuous at best. China and Russia have long opposed UN sanctions, and there is nothing in the agreement to suggest that opposition by two Security Council members could be dismissed out of hand. Furthermore, the latest declaration by Churkin comes amidst a burgeoning alliance between China and Russia, symbolized by Russian President Vladimir Putin offering the seat next to him to Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Russian ceremony commemorating the 70th anniversary of Nazi Germany’s defeat. The two nations have recently solidified their relationship with 32 separate bilateral agreements “designed to highlight the warming of relations between the countries even as Russia’s have soured with the West,” as the New York Times characterizes it. In addition, the two nations have been holding first-ever joint naval drills in the Mediterranean Sea this week.
Thus the Obama administration’s latest statement that Russia agreed “in principle” to the imposition of snapback sanctions—for which the Russian government offered no corroboration whatsoever—rings exceedingly hollow. That hollowness is buttressed by Russian deputy foreign minister Sergey Rybakov who told state-run RIA Novosti in April any reintroduction of sanctions wold require a UN Security Council vote. “We are proceeding on the basis that if one of the partners in the talks raises the possibility of sanctions being reintroduced against Iran, in the hypothetical situation that Iran should fail to honor its commitments, then this process should not in any way be automatic,” he said.
And moving from principles to practicality, it is worth remembering April is the same month the Kremlin ended a 2010 self-imposed ban, and promised to deliver a sophisticated S-300 surface-to-air missile system to the world’s foremost state sponsor of terrorism. One that would would make it far more dangerous to take out Iranian nuclear facilities. Perhaps Obama believed Putin would remain passive in the face of the sanctions imposed by the United States and the European Union as punishment for his support for the rebels in Ukraine. Last March, Secretary of State John Kerry assured the world Western nations were prepared “to go to the hilt” to isolate Russia for its “incredible act of aggression.” This week Kerry is in Russia. “This trip is part of our ongoing effort to maintain direct lines of communication with senior Russian officials and to ensure U.S. views are clearly conveyed,” a State Department press release explained. One suspects Putin is well aware of what the United States is after—and couldn’t care less.
Moreover, the hits keep coming with regard to Obama’s insistence last December that Iran could be “a very successful regional power” following a deal that would ultimately lead to Iran being “reintegrated into the international community.” As revealed by Reuters, the purchase of “a large shipment of sensitive technology useable for nuclear enrichment” was thwarted by the Czech Republic when false documentation raised suspicions about the transaction.
The incident occurred in January, when Iran tried to buy compressors with both nuclear and non-nuclear applications made by Howden CKD Compressors, a U.S-owned company. Iran had attempted to make the purchase through Howden CKD in the Czech Republic. According to the latest annual report released by the expert panel for the United Nations Security Council’s Iran sanctions committee, a ”false end user” for the stated order precipitated the move by the Czech Republic. ”The procurer and transport company involved in the deal had provided false documentation in order to hide the origins, movement and destination of the consignment with the intention of bypassing export controls and sanctions,” the report added. There was no indication Howden CKD itself was involved, but Prague-based officials of the company declined to comment.
Iran’s Navy has also continued to manifest aggression on the high seas, firing shots across the bow of Singapore-flagged cargo ship Alpine Eternity in the Persian Gulf. Five Iranian fast boats approached the vessel in international waters and ordered it into Iranian waters. When the ship’s master refused, the Iranians attempted to disable the vessel firing several shots at it, even as it retreated into UAE territorial waters. They eventually broke off pursuit. This marks the third such incident in less than a month, following aggression directed at the U.S.-flagged cargo ship Maersk Kensington, and the Marshall Islands-flagged M/V Maersk Tigris.
Moreover, an Iranian ship is currently headed towards Yemen, and Iranian officials have declared that any attempt to block what they call an aid ship—as opposed to one laden with arms and other supplies for Iranian-backed Houthi rebels–“will spark war in the region,” according to Iranian General Massoud Jazzayeri. The Iranian Defense Ministry also lashed out at the the United States directly. “The U.S. is an accomplice to the war criminals by supporting genocide in Yemen and the Iranian people’s food and drug aid is a humanitarian move to soothe the oppressed Yemeni people’s pains,” it stated. Iran’s Fars News Agency also reported that one of its ships “locked its missile systems on an invading vessel” and warned the “terrorists” manning it “they would be killed with the first bullets of Alborz,” said Commodore Hassan Maqsoudlou, the captain of the Alborz destroyer.
All of these incidents have taken place after the deal to make a deal between Iran and the P5+1 powers was reached.
In the meantime, Iran insists that any agreement reached by the June 30 deadline would shortly thereafter precipitate a UN Security Council resolution that “will terminate all previous resolutions, including all sanctions and will set in place the termination of EU sanctions,” said Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif in a speech at New York University on April 29.
United States UN Ambassador Samatha Power had a different take, insisting the lifting of sanctions would lead only to their replacement with “a mechanism” keeping many of them related to weapons in place, as well as providing “some kind of procurement channel” to vet any “dual-use” acquisitions or purchases Iran wants to make,“ she stated in testimony to Congress on April 15. Yet Powers also emphasized the pie-in-the-sky thinking that dominates this administration, insisting it will “secure an arrangement to allow for snapback in New York that doesn’t require Russian or Chinese support.”
In a speech two weeks later at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew doubled down on the individual veto smokescreen. “We have made it abundantly clear that if Iran breaks its commitment, it will face once again the full force of the multilateral sanctions regime,” he said. “The snapback would not be vulnerable to a veto by an individual P5 member, including China and Russia.”
Matt Levitt, a former Treasury official who moderated that event, cut through such pernicious nonsense. “No one should be fooled into thinking there will be any automaticity here,” he stated. “If we thought Iran was cheating, the debate then moves to whether there was in fact a violation. You can see a situation where Russia and China will dispute whether there is in fact a violation.” Given ongoing projection of American weakness embraced by this administration, coupled with a maddening level of ideologically-induced naiveté and the president’s determination to burnish his “historical” legacy—all of which from the foundation of the Obama administration’s disastrous foreign policy—it becomes hard to see why China and Russia wouldn’t dispute any violation, no matter how egregious or transparent.
Freedom Center pamphlets now available on Kindle: Click here**.
LIKE Frontpagemag.com on Facebook and Subscribe to Jamie Glazov Productions.
Leave a Reply