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The Orton Report
December 23, 2017

Can Trump Correct Course on Obama’s Failed Iran Policy?

by
Kyle Orton

A widely reported, 15,000-word article by Josh Meyer in Politico on Sunday moves us another step closer to finding out the actual terms of President Barack Obama’s nuclear deal with the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Though the Obama administration sold the Iran deal on the narrowest possible terms as an arms control agreement, the reality was that this agreement was intended to facilitate a strategic tilt in Iran’s favour—against traditional allies—that left a regional balance requiring less American commitment.

Because the administration wanted the paper agreement, Iran had the leverage to threaten to walk away, and was therefore appeased on multiple fronts ostensibly unrelated to the nuclear issue.

Meyer lays out a part of what that meant in practice: the US government ceasing to try to crack down on the global criminal fundraising of Hizballah, the Lebanese wing of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC)—the part of the Iranian regime charged with exporting the theocratic revolution, by terrorism and violence where necessary.

The revenue-generating schemes Iran/Hizballah was allowed a freer hand to pursue under Obama—many of them based on narcotics trafficking—involved corruption and terrorism inside the US itself; the support, in collaboration with the Russian government, of Bashar al-Assad’s war against Syria’s people; assisting Iran’s proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD); and the destabilisation of countries from the Middle East to Latin America.

What was in the Iran deal?

The Iran deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), was first announced as a working version in April 2015 and finalised on 14 July 2015—though not signed by anybody. Implementation began on 16 January 2016. The terms of the deal are immensely advantageous for Iran.

The sanctions, painstakingly put in place over a decade and finally showing results in 2012, were dismantled. The decommissioning of the plutonium reactor was fudged. Restrictions on conventional weapons and ballistic missiles are to be eliminated in under a decade.

Six UN Security Council resolutions banning any uranium enrichment on Iranian territory were repealed. Iran was permitted vast numbers of centrifuges and a research and development loophole to reduce the time needed to manufacture fissile material.

In short: Iran will have an industrial-scale programme capable of rapid breakout at the end of the JCPOA’s term, which was the most damaging concession: the “sunset clause”. What restrictions the JCPOA leaves in place—feeble as they are, with no effective mechanism for policing them—only last fifteen years.

Read the rest at The New Arab