Perfidy in Vienna? Or the madness of Slow Joe

Melanie Phillips draws attention to the Twitter thread by Gabriel Noronha, a former State Department Iran official. His Twitter account is here. I am taking the liberty of simply copying the Twitter thread Phillips quotes for your information. In the thread Noronha refers to Reuters’ reporting on Iran. I think he must be referring to this story and others compiled there.

Phillips calls her Substack post “Perfidy in Vienna?” If true, she writes in her conclusion, it represents “an act of supreme treachery…” Although it harks back to the strategery of President Obama, with the Russian twist this seems to me to represent the madness of Slow Joe. We shall see.

1. My former career @StateDept, NSC, and EU colleagues are so concerned with the concessions being made by @RobMalley in Vienna that they’ve allowed me to publish some details of the coming deal in the hopes that Congress will act to stop the capitulation.

2. “What’s happening in Vienna is a total disaster” one warned. The entire negotiations have been filtered and “essentially run” by Russian diplomat Mikhail Ulyanov. The concessions and other misguided policies have led three members of the U.S. negotiating team to leave.

3. This is a long and technical thread, but here’s what you should know: the deal being negotiated in Vienna is dangerous to our national security, it is illegal, it is illegitimate, and it in no way serves U.S. interests in either the short or long term.

4. Here’s why: Led by Rob Malley, the U.S. has promised to lift sanctions on some of the regime’s worst terrorists and torturers, leading officials in the regime’s WMD infrastructure, and is currently trying to lift sanctions on the IRGC itself. Let’s dive in.

5. First, Biden’s team is preparing to rescind the Supreme Leaders’ Office Executive Order (E.O. 13876) as soon as this coming Monday, and lift sanctions on nearly every one of the 112 people/entities sanctioned under it, even if they’re sanctioned under other legal authorities.

6. We sanctioned some of the worst people you can possibly imagine under this authority, like Mohsen Rezaei, who was involved in the 1994 AMIA bombing that killed 85 people in Argentina. He’ll be able to live free of sanctions next week if Malley proceeds.

7. Also under this action, the U.S. will lift sanctions on IRGC Brigadier General Hossein Dehghan, who led IRGC forces in Lebanon and Syria when Hezbollah bombed the Marine compound in Beirut and killed 241 U.S. service members in 1983.

8. Who else? Ali Akbar Velayati, a senior advisor to Supreme Leader Khamenei, who was charged in Argentina for homicide for the 1994 AMIA bombing and as one of the “ideological masterminds” behind the attack. He also helped prop up Assad’s brutality in Syria.

9. This would also lift sanctions on Khamenei’s personal slush funds known as “bonyads”, including Astan Quds Razavi and Execution of Imam Khomeini’s Order, which confiscated houses and billions from political dissidents and religious minorities to enrich Khamenei and his goons.

10. Sanctions also to be lifted on Bonyad Mostazafan, a massive conglomerate that systematically confiscated property from Jews and Bahai’s after 1979. It is enmeshed with the IRGC and is a corruption network used to enrich top Iranian terrorists.

11. It’s important to note that the Supreme Leaders Office EO was not at all related to Iran’s nuclear program, and the removal of these sanctions under a so-called nuclear deal is a ridiculous farce. The State Department’s lawyers know better but were forced into this by Malley.

12. Our lawyers were clear when we released this EO: it was a response to actions by Iran & its proxies to destabilize the Middle East, promote international terrorism, advance Iran’s ballistic missile program, & Iran’s attack against U.S. military assets + civilian vehicles.

13. There’s much more: sanctions will be lifted on huge swaths of the regime’s economic and financial arms (close to 40 major entities) that support the Iranian terror, repression, and WMD infrastructure and were sanctioned under those legal authorities.

14. For example, they are lifting sanctions on economic arms of the Mehr Eqtesad network and Bonyad Taavon Basij which directly funds the Basij Resistance Force that recruits and trains child soldiers forced into combat.

15. The U.S. is not lifting sanctions on the Basij (responsible for killing thousands of Iranian protesters) itself, because the Iranians didn’t care – they just wanted sanctions on the funding mechanisms lifted because that’s what actually matters. Malley obliged.

16. These sanctions are also not related to Iran’s nuclear program, but we’re about to lift sanctions on them anyways. These are not “inconsistent with the JCPOA” as Blinken and Malley claim – they targeted the institutions that kill thousands of innocent Iranians and Arabs.

17. More: Every individual and entity that was de-sanctioned under the JCPOA’s Annex II Attachment 3 will have all sanctions stripped again, EVEN THOUGH close to 100 of them were later sanctioned for terrorism, human rights violations, and participation in Iran’s WMD activities.

18. Take Ghavamin Bank for example. It was sanctioned under human rights authorities in November 2018 for involvement supporting the Iranian Law Enforcement Forces that tortured and drowned Afghans. That won’t matter anymore – they’ll be free from sanctions.

19. Same for Sepah Bank, sanctioned in 2007 as “the financial linchpin of Iran’s missile procurement network.” That first sanction was lifted by the JCPOA, but Sepah was later sanctioned for their support of the Iranian Ministry of Defense. Now, both sanctions would be lifted.

20. The JCPOA lifted sanctions on the Attachment 3 list under the guise that they were nuclear-related sanctions. But now, Malley and co. are effectively trying to codify their permanent exemption from sanctions even if they are complicit in gross violations of human rights.

21. This is akin to criminal prosecution. The Attachment 3 lists were all previously indicted for nuclear “crimes”. But a bunch of them later committed human rights and terrorism “crimes” and were sanctioned accordingly. But now Malley is giving them a full-on pardon.

22. Sanctions will also be lifted on the Central Bank of Iran and the National Development Fund, which were sanctioned under counterterrorism authorities for providing billions of dollars to the IRGC, the Qods Force, and Hizballah. These organizations STILL fund terrorism.

23. The CBI and NDF were sanctioned after Iran brazenly attacked Saudi Arabia in September 2019 in the attacks on Saudi Aramco in an act of war. Again, these sanctions are not related to Iran’s nuclear program – they are about terrorism.

24. Also to be lifted: sanctions on the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) and the National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC) that fund the Qods Force, responsible for killing hundreds of thousands of Syrians and for the death of at least 603 Americans in Iraq from 2003-2011.

25. NIOC and NITC were sanctioned under counterterrorism authorities approved by interagency career lawyers, including from DOJ and Treasury. Why? Because they were involved in the funding of terrorism. They never stopped that activity, but sanctions are still getting lifted.

26. The @StateDept has no legal basis to rescind the sanctions on the Central Bank, NDF, NIOC or NITC as they still continue to support terrorism. To remove those sanctions, you typically have to prove they aren’t supporting terror. They can’t. In other words, this is all illegal.

27. Speaking of lawyers, State’s lawyers are said to be working on “very creative” ways to try and bypass Congress’ right to review (or even see the deal) under INARA. The political appointees working this deal are said to strongly distain Congress and view them as a nuisance.

28. Perhaps most troubling is Malley’s attempt to remove sanctions on the IRGC. Malley was initially rebuffed by the interagency after he tried to get them to let him offer the removal of IRGC sanctions to the Iranians. That hasn’t stopped him.

29. Malley has proposed to the Iranians that the U.S. will remove the IRGC from the Foreign Terrorist Organization list & sanctions if the Iranians simply promise to talk to the United States in new negotiations about their “regional activity” (aka terrorism).

30. This is one of the last issues still on the table in Vienna. The Iranians apparently have not accepted Malley’s offer, because they want an unconditional removal of the IRGC’s FTO designation. But even if the Iranians caved, we’d still be removing the IRGC sanctions!

31. Over the past four decades, the IRGC has plotted and carried out terrorist attacks in 35 countries, and they continue to do so today. As Pompeo disclosed last year, they are currently providing safe haven and logistical support for Al-Qaeda in Iran.

32. For all these concessions, we haven’t gotten anything at all from the Iranians. The JCPOA’s sunsets have not been extended at all. Some restrictions, like the UN arms embargo, have already expired. All the meaningful restrictions will expire in the next 9 years.

33. Iran won’t make any concessions on its ballistic missile activity, its terrorist activity and support for proxy groups, or taking further hostages from the United States and other countries. But it will get money anyways – lots and lots of money.

34. Iran is set to get a massive windfall in access to cash: the latest estimate is $90 billion in foreign exchange reserves, and then $50-55 billion in extra revenue each year from higher oil/petrochemical exports, with no restrictions on where it’ll be spent.

35. My sources confirm @ReutersIran’s reporting that Malley is imminently set to release $7 billion in funds frozen in South Korean banks as the first part of the deal in a massive hostage payment to get four Americans — and possibly some British citizens — out of jail in Iran.

36. I’m glad that we’ll have Americans coming home — they are innocent victims. But make no mistake: Biden’s payment will only supercharge Iran’s hostage-taking industry. More Americans will land in Evin prison soon. This is a massive unforced error.

37. Malley has designed this process to bypass Congress from having any say. How? Because the Iranian banks Malley is lifting sanctions on as soon as Monday will be able to access and repatriate tens of billions of $$ immediately — before Congress can vote on any deal.

38. Even if Malley later submitted a deal to congress, the b[u]lk of the damage would already be done — Iran will have control of billions and the US will have no more leverage. This is pure diplomatic malpractice, and congress needs to investigate this attempted fait accompli.

39. The Biden administration is claiming that they are going back to the JCPOA [the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, a/k/a the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran] and therefore do not need to submit the deal to Congress under the 2015 INARA law. That’s not true — this deal is not the JCPOA. It is much, much worse.

40. The degree of capitulation happening here is staggering — especially for people like me who worked in the technical trenches of this stuff for years, That’s why these non-partisan career staffers are coming out the woodwork and desperately asking for oversight from Congress.

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