Talks Continue Despite New Iranian Violations

On Thursday the scene at the P5+1 talks in Vienna was absolutely surreal, like something out of the Twilight Zone. By Friday morning things seemed to have settled down, and negotiators working the deal agreed to extend an interim “framework” agreement until Monday to give them more time to work, according to a senior State Department official.

While the Obama Administration is trying to convince Congress and the American people that the despotic terror-supporting Iranian leaders have changed their ways, given up their nuclear ambitions, and joined the Boy Scouts so they could help old Jewish ladies cross the street on their way home from synagogue on Saturdays, the Iranians have been violating the framework agreement.

German intelligence agents discovered the latest violation by the supposedly reformed, now goody-two-shoes Iranians.

As reported in the Weekly Standard:

The agency, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, confirmed to us that Iran continues to seek illicit technology for its nuclear and ballistic missiles programs.

Iran has had a long history of trying to obtain nuclear technology from German companies, particularly by seeking ways to transport merchandise in circumvention of international sanctions. Since November 2013, Tehran has sought industry computers, high-speed cameras, cable fiber, and pumps for its nuclear and missile program. It appears that Iran’s readiness to negotiate does not reflect any substantive policy change. Rather, it is a diplomatic tactic retreat forced by economic distress, not a strategic rethinking of its priorities.

Iran’s cheating should give Western negotiators additional resolve to impose ironclad guarantees in the agreement. They should compel Iran to reveal its past activities, including its post-JPOA procurement efforts, and impose tough, intrusive, “anytime, anywhere” inspections before sanctions are suspended, let alone lifted.

Instead, the lack of reporting to the U.N. despite evidence of cheating suggests a lack of resolve on the part of Western nations, and their willingness to downplay all but the most egregious violations. This does not bode well for the future. If Western powers are reluctant to penalize Iran for trying to evade sanctions because they’re afraid of spoiling the negotiations, what will happen in the future when Western powers have even more invested in preserving an agreement?

This isn’t the case of Iran violating the framework agreement.  The most recent and perhaps most serious example of Iran’s cheating was the oxidation violation which was confirmed in late June (and still denied by the administration.) The Iranians were obligated by the JPOA to turn all of their excess uranium gas (UF6), anything over 7,650kg, into dioxide powder (UO2) also known as yellowcake. But the Iranians converted it to a different type of oxide easily converted back to usable uranium.

In April there were three different reports of the Obama administration hiding news about Iran:

  • April 14th-Washington Institute report: Changing Iran Trends in the Worldwide Threat Assessment found that for some strange reason the administration had stopped reporting on Iranian sponsorship of terrorism. Each year, the director of national intelligence presents Congress with a “Worldwide Threat Assessment” detailing the range of security threats to the United States, with the latest edition released this February. The past two editions of the annual intelligence report show a marked shift away from discussing Iran’s hegemonic regional ambitions and terrorism sponsorship.
  •  April 14th- Wall Street Journal article The CIA Needs an Iran ‘Team B’ warned that CIA analysts backed up Obama out of fear for their jobs. “Picture CIA analysts and other officers charged with weighing and interpreting Iran’s nuclear program in relation to the recently concluded negotiations in Lausanne, Switzerland; that is, CIA analysts who have families and mortgages. Their solemn charge is to report and analyze facts straight-on—the good, the bad and the ugly. (…) But the boss has already said that purported concerns about Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon are dishonest. Human nature being what it is at Langley as elsewhere, how likely is it that an evaluation suggesting that Iran is up to something would make it beyond operational channels, through reports officers, analysts and CIA managers, up to policy makers?”
  • April 15th-Washington Free Beacon reported a violation of the U.N Arms embargo: North Korea Transfers Missile Goods to Iran During Nuclear Talks –“North Korea supplied several shipments of missile components to Iran during recent nuclear talks and the transfers appear to violate United Nations sanctions on both countries, according to U.S. intelligence officials. Since September more than two shipments of missile parts have been monitored by U.S. intelligence agencies as they transited from North Korea to Iran, said officials familiar with intelligence reports who spoke on condition of anonymity.”

The Weekly Standard piece outlined above, concluded by getting down to the real issue raised by the Iran violations:

The question is not whether Iran can be trusted to uphold the nuclear deal now being negotiated in Vienna (it can’t), but whether the Obama administration and its P5+1 partners can be trusted to punish Iran when it violates the agreement?