The U.S. Is Considering an Ill-Advised, and Possibly Illegal, Deal with Iran

June 29, 2023 | Richard Goldberg and Behnam Ben Taleblu
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While reports vary as to the details of the informal agreement currently being negotiated between Washington and Tehran, the basic outline is clear: the ayatollahs will receive billions of dollars and keep their nuclear program, and in return will release hostages and make an unenforceable promise to cease enriching uranium past the 90-percent threshold necessary for weaponization. Richard Goldberg and Behnam Ben Taleblu write:

In addition to repeating the same mistake [as the 2015 nuclear agreement] of leaving nuclear infrastructure and centrifuges intact, this arrangement adds insult to injury by capping Iran’s uranium enrichment-purity level at 60 percent, [far beyond what is necessary for civilian use], which the regime can quickly enrich to weapons-grade, or 90 percent.

The administration may [also] be violating U.S. law by providing sanctions relief to Iran without first notifying Congress and waiting 30 days before releasing funds. . . . The statute specifies that within five calendar days after reaching any agreement with Iran relating to its nuclear program, the president must transmit the full agreement to Congress “regardless of the form it takes.” The president must also transmit additional materials related to any agreement. . . . These parameters suggest that Congress must review even an unwritten, informal deal.

Despite warning the public of deepening military and strategic ties between Iran and Russia, the Biden administration is moving forward with an agreement that would indirectly subsidize Iran’s transfer of weapons to Russia. Lax sanctions enforcement would also open new opportunities for Russia to use Iran for expanded sanctions evasion and to learn from evolving Iranian sanctions-busting practices.

Fortunately, Goldberg and Taleblu observe, Congress has the means at its disposal to stop a deal—if it has the will.

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