Iran

Iran Nuclear Deal Moving Forward But Plenty of U.S. Sanctions Remain

Relations are thawing, but saber-rattling continues on both sides.

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White House

This weekend, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) announced Iran had met its obligations under last year's nuclear deal for "Implementation Day," meeting the requirements of the agreement—including removing more than 10,000 centrifuges and sending its stockpile of enriched uranium to Russia—that would trigger the start of sanctions relief.

Iran's progress was faster than expected and the major powers behind the Iran nuclear deal (the U.S., Russia, China, France, the U.K, and Germany) verified the IAEA's findings within minutes, beginning the process of lifting various international sanctions regimes imposed on Iran over its nuclear program, which Iran has insisted is peaceful but its critics claimed was cover for atomic weapons development. The first step in sanctions relief includes permitting Iran to sell its oil on the world market and re-integrating its banks into the global financial system.

But while European and other foreign enterprises are preparing to do business in Iran, U.S. companies remain prohibited from doing so by sanctions that will not be lifted as part of the nuclear deal. In remarks about the nuclear deal over the weekend, President Obama stressed that "there remain profound differences between the United States and Iran" on issues ranging from threats against Israel and other U.S. allies to domestic violations of human rights.

Nevertheless, the Iran nuclear deal is a sign of progress and, as Obama noted in his remarks, has come along with others. Obama claimed the release of U.S. sailors who had strayed into Iranian territorial waters as another sign of program, as well as the release of a number of Americans held in prison by Iran. Those came in exchange for the release of a number of Iranians in U.S. detention, although the president insisted they were not being held for violent crimes or terrorism.

Critics of last year's nuclear deal argued the release of the prisoners released this weekend should have been included. The Obama administration argued Iran's prisoners was unrelated to the nuclear issue and would complicate it. This weekend, Obama credited the nuclear deal for creating a "window" of opportunity for more cooperation, such as the exchange of prisoners.

He also mentioned Iran's recent missile test in the vicinity of a U.S. warship, which the U.S. claims violates Iran's international obligations, and announced a new round of sanctions against the missiles program once the American prisoners were safely out of Iran.

Media reports indicate that swap was almost scuttled when one prisoner's wife and mother were kept away from U.S. officials on the ground. Secretary of State John Kerry reportedly had to phone his counterpart to resolve the problem. Kerry had to call the Iranian foreign minister, Javad Zarif, multiple times last week to secure the release of the U.S. sailors, and throughout it an admiral from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard insisted claims about their imminent release sourced to conversations between Kerry and Zarif were inaccurate. Attempts to thwart this weekend's prisoner release may have come from hardliners as well. Meanwhile, Iran's president, Hassan Rouhani, tried to co-opt hardliners' closeness to Iran's supreme leader by crediting him for the perceived successes of the nuclear deal.

Republican presidential candidates hailed the release of U.S. prisoners by Iran this weekend but also took the time to criticize Obama's foreign policy. Donald Trump said the fact the prisoners were held as long as they were was a "disgrace," which would suggest Trump supported a military intervention to secure release of U.S. prisoners abroad if Trump were known to think at all about the meaning of the things he said. Ted Cruz also said he was "thankful" the prisoners were released but worried that there could be "very problematic aspects" to the exchange. He did not suggest how he would have secured the release of the prisoners, just as Republican critics of the Iran nuclear deal never suggested what they would have negotiated differently.

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  1. The Swiss business press is all “Stampede! Who can get what, and how!” about the Exchange in Tehran.

    http://www.bilanz.ch/invest/ak…..sen-542374

    1. They do make nice rugs,but,I hear their beer sucks.

  2. There is no Iran deal. Leaving aside the legalities of the “executive agreement” or whatever they are calling it:

    A deal is only a deal if both sides live up to it.

    Iran has broken the deal repeatedly. There is no deal. There are only gifts to the mullahs, which Obama is delivering with both hands.

    1. And of course,all the nations in the region were excluded.Typical,the ‘great powers’ make a deal that others have to live with .Kinda like a mini Versailles. These deals never end well.

      1. “And of course,all the nations in the region were excluded”

        Are you suggesting that Israel and Saudi Arabia have any material interest in how well-armed Iran is? PISH POSH. Obama is playing 7-dimensional chess, you know. Obviously everything he does will result in greater peace and stability, else why would he do it?

        1. He has done one thing,give the Israelis and Arab states a common threat . See,peace at last.

          1. Far too optimistic. We could be invaded by space aliens, and the Arab countries would still be whacking away at Israel.

  3. Unlike prior articles on the topic, Ed seems to be moving away from asserting how all of this is supposed to be good and great and productive and a ‘step forward’ or something.

    also = technically, “Candidates” can’t really saber-rattle. They don’t have the power to do fuck-all. No sabers, no rattle… just rhetoric.

    Iranians conducting nuclear-capable-missile tests WHILE claiming to be abandoning its nuclear program? that’s a little more substantive and noteworthy.

    If people think “we should drop sanctions whether or not Iran pursues nuclear weapons, we should drop sanctions unilaterally, because sanctions are stupid and ineffective, and it doesn’t matter what Iran does/doesn’t do, really”… Then say so. *i* think so. But i rarely hear pundits say so. They prefer to pretend this is “diplomacy” and going through the motions of some quid-pro-quo is actually valuable… for what, i don’t know. Theater’s sake? Its sort of embarrassing.

    1. If people think “we should drop sanctions whether or not Iran pursues nuclear weapons, we should drop sanctions unilaterally, because sanctions are stupid and ineffective, and it doesn’t matter what Iran does/doesn’t do, really”… Then say so. *i* think so. But i rarely hear pundits say so.

      You don’t get historic deals if you just drop sanctions.

      1. The typical counter to my ‘theoretical’ alternative is that, “That’s politically impossible”. However, we more or less did it w/ Cuba.

        I agree with you though, that the key-payoff for doing it via this Diplomatic-Charade is purely for the bullshit claims Obama can make about his glorious foreign policy legacy.

    2. Ed seems to be moving away from asserting how all of this is supposed to be good and great and productive

      Really?

      Nevertheless, the Iran nuclear deal is a sign of progress

      I know, I know . . . “moving away”. He could move a little faster, is all.

  4. At this point it actually makes more sense to be looking at the “What next” implications.

    As some people have already pointed out… the likely beneficiaries of the $500bn being given back to Iran? Are probably going to be the same P5+1/E3+3 countries that are all pushing to let the sanctions end.

    i.e. the first thing Iran is going to do with that money is send $100bn to each of them in the form of banking/trade deals.

    And in so doing make it politically impossible for anyone to ever renew sanctions.

    Its the same way US military-Aid becomes so compelling year-after-year. Because all that “Aid” we give to Egypt and Israel? is mostly spent w/ US firms and contractors. So its really just backdoor pork-barrel spending.

    The great benefit of this particular pork-barrel is that its…. *Halal*. Its “irans money” (cue laugh track)

    1. Its the same way US military-Aid becomes so compelling year-after-year. Because all that “Aid” we give to Egypt and Israel? is mostly spent w/ US firms and contractors. So its really just backdoor pork-barrel spending.

      This. All the aid to Egypt as essentially been a payoff to weapons-producing districts here at home.

      “Here, Egypt, take this voucher, good for four F15s. Just mail it in to our F15 factory in St. Louis and it’ll arrive on your doorstep in six to eight months!”

      1. So,it’s like a gift certificate? I hope they remembered to put ‘no cash value’ on them Don’t want them buying a couple M-14’s and want change back.

      2. Er…you got any of those for an M1A3 tank?

        Asking for a diplomatic friend.

        1. I’m holding out for a puddle jumper .

          1. I’d prefer a warp-capable shuttle.

  5. It’s all pretty silly, really.

    Gondolier

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