Matthew Lee is the AP’s excellent diplomatic reporter. In a story just posted this morning, Lee reports that a new Iran deal (worse than the old deal) may be “tantalizingly close.”
Reading between the lines, Lee’s opening paragraph comes off like a subtle satire of the proposition that the deal in view is “tantalizing”: “Last week’s attack on author Salman Rushdie and the indictment of an Iranian national in a plot to kill former national security adviser John Bolton have given the Biden administration new headaches as it attempts to negotiate a return to the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran.”
Take two aspirin for those new headaches and call us back in 2025. They are out of their ever-loving minds.
Lee elaborates on the headaches:
Deal critics in Congress who have long vowed to blow up any pact have ratcheted up their opposition to negotiations with a country whose leadership has refused to rescind the death threats against Rushdie or Bolton. Iran also vows to avenge the Trump administration’s 2020 assassination of a top Iranian general by killing former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Iran envoy Brian Hook, both of whom remain under 24/7 taxpayer-paid security protection.
Although such threats are not covered by the deal, which relates solely to Iran’s nuclear program, they underscore deal opponents’ arguments that Iran cannot be trusted with the billions of dollars in sanctions relief it will receive if and when it and the U.S. return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, a signature foreign policy accomplishment of the Obama administration that President Donald Trump withdrew from in 2018.
“This is a tougher deal to sell than the 2015 deal in that this time around there are no illusions that it will serve to moderate Iranian behavior or lead to greater U.S.-Iran cooperation,” said Karim Sadjadpour, an Iran expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
“The Iranian government stands to get tens of billions in sanctions relief, and the organizing principle of the regime will continue to be opposition to the United States and violence against its critics, both at home and abroad,” he said.
Lee includes another quote from a knowledgeable critic of the venture whose consummation is so tantalizingly close:
“Granting terrorism sanctions relief amid ongoing terror plots on U.S. soil is somewhere between outrageous and lunacy,” said Rich Goldberg, a former Trump administration national security council staffer and longtime deal critic who is now a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, which has also lobbied against a return to the JCPOA.
“Tantalizing” presumes that the object in view is desirable. Lee’s story tends to belie the implication of his formulation that also appears in the story’s headline. Both Matt Continetti and Douglas Murray explore the contradictions in excellent columns today. Having written so much about the road we are on, I defer to them this morning and ask interested readers to check out their columns.