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The Iran deal one year later

by Stephen Kaye
Thu Aug 11th, 2016

A year has now passed since the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) was approved by the United Nations.  In that year, Iran has, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) been in full compliance.  Iran has dismantled its uranium enrichment facilities, it has reduced its stock of reactor-grade fuel to 300 kg from 10,000 kg, and the reactor core of the Arak heavy water reactor has been filled with cement.  Iran’s actions have not, however, been complemented by compliance by one other party to that plan, namely, the United States.

One of the key objectives achieved by Iran in signing the JCPOA was to restore its international trading partnerships, to give Iran access to oil markets and to the international banking system so Iran can trade with the rest of the world.  Among Iran’s priorities was to order Boeing passenger planes to replace the aged planes in its fleet—it needs to replace 230 of its 250 planes.  To that end Boeing negotiated a $17 billion contract.  While Boeing was specifically exempted from further US sanctions in the JCPOA agreement, it can’t arrange their own domestic financing of the project because the Office of Foreign Assets Control stands squarely in the way. That office of the Treasury enforces domestic sanctions put in place to combat terrorism.  (Europe's Airbus recently signed a provisional deal earlier this year worth $27 bn.)

Iran continues to be labeled as “the number one country supporting terrorism globally” by the US Treasury.  The basis for this claim is not that Iran is engaged in global terrorist acts, but for its alleged financial support of Hezbollah and Hamas.   Hezbollah is a broad-based political, military and social services entity in Lebanon; Hamas is the elected government of Gaza that is the main distributor of food, medicines and social services in the sliver of land where 1,800,000 Palestinians eke out a miserable existence.  Both Hezbollah and Hamas and their respective leaders, supporters and members, are branded terrorists by the US Treasury.

In a well-researched paper, Eric Petersen points out that neither Hezbollah or Hamas receive much in the way of material support from Iran, that both entities are fighting ISIS and the al-Nusra Front in Syria, which we are also fighting, although we have given support to al-Nusra, which is allied to al-Qaida. 

Both Hezbollah and Hamas trace their situation to U.S. and Israeli actions or policies.  Hamas may even be working on an agreement with Israel.  Iran seems to have stopped sending Hamas funds around five years ago. Deliveries of about 100 purchased jets were scheduled to start in 2017, yet it remains unclear whether this will happen, no matter which party wins the next election; it even remains unclear whether any banks anywhere will support such a deal. Iran has no international debt, but it has almost zero credit.

The U.S. Congress seems about one decade behind facts on the ground.  It is still tilting at the windmill of 9/11 terrorism, which had nothing to do with Iran; it invents facts to support the continuance of sanctions, ignoring the changing reality.  Meanwhile, China has stepped in and is signing long-term billion dollar deals that will effectively squeeze out many American companies that expected to benefit from the treaty. 

On August 8, Reuters reported that Iran intends to buy 20 regional jets from Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. Iranian public opinion is shifting from hopeful to the cynical, as they now doubt American motives.  Between Congressional Republicans and the Iran-bashing candidates, Iran is not hearing the sounds of the new agreement. Good will that was generated initially is being lost.  The thin threads of progress are fraying.

We note that the platforms of both parties repeat the litany that Iran is the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism, citing Hamas and Hezbollah.  Two committees in Congress are sponsoring bills that would kill the Boeing sale, even though Obama has said he would veto such bills.  The anti-Iran faction in Congress is not giving up.  Such language serves to make Iran even more distrustful, and even more anxious to bolster its defenses, especially when the charges about terrorism are so inaccurate.  These actions are noted in Iran where its people must wonder what kind of deal they have made. 

Not reported in the popular media, or even in think-tanks, is the role AIPAC and Netanyahu play in the formulation of our Iran policy.  Netanyahu had been selling the idea that Iran is a common enemy for years.  Congress seems more willing to listen to Netanyahu and spread hate speech than to make the effort to understand a country struggling with an attempt to open itself to the secular world.  Those members of Congress who express the most vehement anti-Iranian statements are also the most vehement supporters of Israel.  That linkage is not proof, but it is suggestive.  

References:

https://www.brookings.edu/2016/01/22/a-major-milestone-for-the-iran-nucl...

Eric is willing to provide any interested reader a copy of this 24-page report by mail. Email him at "ericellenp@yahoo.com".  It was President George W. Bush who insisted on an election in Gaza over the objections of his own advisors and of Israel.  Hamas won the election and Bush hastened to deny recognition to a group that Israel called a terrorist organization.

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-iran-aircraft-mitsubishi-idUSKCN10I0TA

Amir Handjani, “Iran’s economy a year later, still in the penalty box,” Center for Strategic and International Studies/The JCPOA Timeline, http://jcpoatimeline.csis.org/