Jonathan Tobin trots out the latest weak attack on the nuclear deal with Iran:
This past January, as the Iran nuclear deal was implemented, the Obama administration justified its eagerness to end sanctions by asserting that Tehran had scrupulously kept all its promises. But it turns out that the demands placed on Iran weren’t as strict as we were led to believe. The United States granted “exemptions” to the Islamist regime in order to more quickly end the international restrictions on doing business with it. These exemptions were revealed today in a Reuters story based on a report by the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security.
Tobin declares this to be “shocking,” but as usual with criticisms of the nuclear deal it isn’t true. Saying that Iran received “exemptions” implies that Iran didn’t have to comply with the requirements of the deal, but Iran has fully complied and their compliance has been verified. Several nonproliferation and arms control experts have greeted the report with a dismissive shrug. John Hudson reports:
Non-proliferation groups and arms control experts have largely been supportive of the deal and some openly dismissed the report.
“It is a bridge too far to call this a secret exemption necessary to reach implementation day,” Kelsey Davenport, director of non-proliferation policy at the Arms Control Association, told Foreign Policy.
She also defended the joint commission as a necessary component to a complex agreement that involves an array of technical issues. “The Joint Commission was created in part to address implementation issues and distinguish between attempts to circumvent the deal’s limits and technical issues,” she said.
Experts said there is nothing clandestine about the joint commission — which is made up of the major powers that signed the deal along with Tehran — working out details on how to carry it out, especially given that Congress was briefed on those details.
Opponents of the nuclear deal have never had good arguments against it. This is why they have to latch on to any story, no matter how insignificant, that they think casts the deal in a bad light. Following their numerous failed attempts to derail and undermine the negotiations that led to the deal, Iran hawks are now reduced to clutching at the smallest of straws. Every criticism Iran hawks have made against both the interim and comprehensive nuclear deals has been discredited, and this is just the latest in a long string of false charges that should be dismissed as such.
The report seemed to imply that the Obama administration should have shared more information about the implementation details with Albright and other experts in the think tank and academic community. In that case, that would represent a criticism about how the White House handled its public relations for the deal, but it would not constitute a “secret” arrangement with Iran that violated the spirit of the accord [bold mine-DL], said Richard Nephew, who was on the U.S. negotiating team for the Iran agreement and is now a fellow at Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy.
The report failed to make the case that something secret or covert had taken place [bold mine-DL], he said.
“There’s no allegation there that this wasn’t briefed to Congress,“ Nephew told FP. “I find it hard to see anything nefarious in what went on here.”