Adam Kredo of the Washington Free Beacon reports that Congress is investigating whether the Obama administration misled lawmakers last summer about the extent of concessions granted to Iran under the nuclear deal. It is also looking into whether administration officials have been quietly rewriting the deal’s terms.
The investigation stems from statements by top administration officials last week suggesting that Iran is set to receive weapons and sanctions relief the administration had promised Congress would not occur back when Team Obama was promoting the deal last summer. The invaluable Rep. Mike Pompeo put it this way:
When multiple officials—including Secretary Kerry, Secretary Lew, and Ambassador Mull—testify in front of Members of Congress, we are inclined to believe them. However, the gap between their promises on the Iran nuclear deal and today’s scary reality continues to widen.
We are now trying to determine whether this was intentional deception on the part of the administration or new levels of disturbing acquiescence to the Iranians.
Either way, it sounds like treachery.
What are the instances of misrepresentation that concern Pompeo and others? For one thing, according to Kredo, congressional leaders are concerned that the administration no longer considers recent Iranian ballistic missile tests a “violation” of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231, which codifies the nuclear deal.
Top administration officials including Secretary of State John Kerry assured Congress that Iran would be legally prohibited from carrying out ballistic missile tests under the resolution. In response to a question from Sen. Menenedez, Kerry insisted that old language banning Iranian ballistic missile launches had been imported unchanged into the new UNSCR. Similarly, ambassador Stephen Mull, our Lead Coordinator for Iran Nuclear Implementation, said that such missile launches would continue to be banned by U.N. Security Council resolutions.
But these statements now appear to be “inoperative.” Last week, U.N. ambassador Samantha Power refused to call recent Iranian launches a “violation” in a letter she signed criticizing those launches.
Second, Treasury Department officials are suggesting that the administration is now set to grant Iran non-nuclear sanctions relief, including indirect access to the U.S. financial system, weeks after top Iranian officials began demanding this form of relief. Top administration figures, including Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, had promised Congress that pre-existing restrictions barring Iran from accessing the U.S. financial system in any way would remain in place even after the nuclear deal.
Here is what Lew said on July 23 of last year:
But a number of key sanctions will remain in place. . .Iranian banks will not be able to clear U.S. dollars through New York, hold correspondent account relationships with U.S. financial institutions, or enter into financing arrangements with U.S. banks. Iran, in other words, will continue to be denied access to the world’s largest financial and commercial market. The JCPOA makes only minor allowances to this broad prohibition.
This statement now appears to be “inoperative.”
Team Obama’s duplicity apparently has generated dissension within the administration. Kredo reports that in a letter to the State Department, Rep. Peter Roskam and Lee Zeldin complained that the administration is stifling voices within its ranks for stronger action against Iran. Roskam and Zeldin suggested that the administration is “putting the JCPOA [the Iran deal] and political legacy above the safety and security of the American people.”
I suspect that putting the Iran deal above the safety and security of the American people will be a major part of President Obama’s legacy.