Who Will Blink First: Iran, or Trump?

Assuming that Hillary Clinton will not find some last-ditch bit of Clintonesque chicanery that will put her in the White House after all, Donald Trump will likely be inaugurated president come January 20, and he will have an ultimatum waiting for him.

The Ayatollah Khamenei warned the day before Thanksgiving that if the U.S. dared to extend sanctions on Iran, the Islamic Republic would retaliate. President-elect Trump, meanwhile, has vowed to cancel the deal altogether, which would almost certainly include restored and new sanctions.

Who will blink first?

The House of Representatives already set the confrontation on course last week, when it reauthorized the Iran Sanctions Act (ISA) for ten years. This was an almost entirely symbolic move, however, as the ISA will expire at the end of this year unless the Senate approves it and Barack Obama signs it -- and Obama is about as likely to do that as he is to put on a Make America Great Again cap.

Indeed, Obama continues to be notoriously protective of the Iran deal. The known elements of the deal are bad enough, as I explain in my book The Complete Infidel’s Guide to Iran. But the secret codicils just keep making things worse, and administration officials continue to appear determined that they not leak out to the public.

Investigative journalist Adam Kredo reported last Tuesday:

Senior Obama administration officials in their final days in office are seeking to cover up key details of the Iran nuclear deal from Congress, according to documents and sources who spoke to the Washington Free Beacon about continued efforts by the White House to block formal investigations into secret diplomacy with Tehran that resulted in a $1.7 billion cash payment by the United States.

As far as Khamenei was concerned, Obama’s obvious anxiousness to keep the mullahs happy was all for show. He proclaimed: “The current U.S. government has breached the nuclear deal in many occasions.” In reality, Iran is the one breaching the agreement. Recently, according to Reuters, the International Atomic Energy Agency revealed:

[Iran] exceeded a soft limit on sensitive material set under its nuclear deal with major powers. … [This is the] second time Tehran has surpassed the 130 metric tonne threshold for heavy water, a material used as a moderator in reactors like Iran’s unfinished one at Arak, since the deal was put in place in January.

The Obama State Department’s response was feeble: it was all just an accident, you see. State spokesman Mark Toner put the best face on things that he could, confusing impunity with good faith:

It’s important to note that Iran made no effort to hide this, hide what it was doing from the IAEA.