Snapback sanctions against Iran limited

When speaking to the media at a Reuters Newsmakers function, Secretary of State John Kerry stated future arms embargo violations by Iran are not subject to snapback sanctions under the recently-concluded nuclear pact with Iran.

The arms embargo is not tied to snapback,” Kerry said. “It is tied to a separate set of obligations. So they are not in material breach of the nuclear agreement for violating the arms piece of it.”

Under the Joint Plan of Action (JCPOA), which remains under intense scrutiny and is the source of passionate debate in Congress, a United Nations (UN) committee which has overseen Iran’s acquiescence to current sanctions will be dismantled and a new apparatus created to supervise Iranian behavior and potential violations to JCPOA.

With support from Russia and China, both of which are eager to peddle sophisticated weapons systems to Tehran, the arms and ballistic missile sanctions imposed by the UN against Iran emerged as the most contentious detail in the final version of JCPOA.

Iran demanded the UN arms embargo be lifted immediately upon becoming a signatory to JCPOA.

Tehran eventually endorsed a concession where the arms embargo would be retained for five years and a ban on ballistic missiles would remain in place for up to eight years.

Despite the revelations, Kerry attempted to soothe anxiety among those in attendance.

“The United States and its allies would have ‘ample tools at our disposal’ if Iran violated the arms embargo and missile sanctions.  There is a specific U.N. resolution outside of this agreement that prohibits them from sending weapons to Hezbollah. There is a separate and specific U.N. resolution that prohibits them from sending weapons to the Shia militia in Iraq,” he said.

Since 2006, the clerics in Tehran have amassed substantial violations to UN-imposed restrictions on Iranian arms and missile programs, not to mention numerous breaches to constraints placed on its nuclear enrichment program.  The violations have been meticulously archived by UN inspectors.

Further and doubly concerning, Wendy Sherman, Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs, was remarkably vague during senate testimony on the future of sanctions against Tehran under the Iran pact.  When quizzed by Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) about the legality for the United States to re-authorize the Iran Sanctions Act of 1996, Sherman simply dodged the question.

“We said in this [JCPOA] document that it recognizes the Constitution of the United States. … So, in that case you do have the right. What we are saying is it’s – we would urge that it’s premature to make that decision,” she said.

Menendez continued to read a segment of a letter penned by Tehran’s masters to the UN aloud  to Sherman.

“It is clearly spelled out in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action that both the European Union and the United States will refrain from re-introducing or re-imposing the sanctions and restrictive measures lifted under the [JCPOA]. It is understood that re-introduction or re-imposition, including through extension of the sanctions and restrictive measures, will constitute significant non-performance which would relieve Iran from its commitments in part or in whole,” Menendez read.

Similar to Menendez’s troubles to extract a straight answer from those in Obama’s State Department, Senator Bob Corker found Treasury Secretary Jack Lew equally elusive, or, worse, terribly uninformed.

 

[Reuters] [foreign.senate.gov] [banking.senate.gov] [armscontrolcenter.org] [treasury.gov] [Photo courtesy The Times of Israel]