A little more than five years ago, President Barack Obama addressed students and faculty at American University in Washington, D.C., about the Iran nuclear deal that had been recently agreed to.
Before getting sanctions relief, Iran has to take significant, concrete steps like removing centrifuges and getting rid of its stockpile. If Iran violates the agreement over the next decade, all of the sanctions can snap back into place. We won’t need the support of other members of the U.N. Security Council; America can trigger snapback on our own.
That was a lie. There never was an ironclad “snapback” provision, despite Obama’s promises. The so-called “snapback” sanctions provision in the agreement was “reinterpreted” by the UN Security Council so that America had to get the world’s permission for sanctions to be reimposed.
Of course, by the time the UN had taken up the agreement, the rest of the world had jumped at the chance to fund Iran’s economic recovery. Billions of dollars were invested in Iran by Germany, France, and Great Britain, who now had a commercial stake in seeing that the sanctions never “snapped back.”
Donald Trump decided to test Obama’s “snapback” provision at the UN this week. It didn’t go well.
Dian Triansyah Djani, who as Indonesia’s ambassador holds the rotating presidency for August, said that the Council would not be taking up the U.S. request, after objections from Russia, China and other members.
“Having contacted the members and received letters from many member countries it is clear to me that there is one member which has a particular position on the issues, while there are significant numbers of members who have contesting views.”
Because there is no consensus on the council, he would not be taking further action, Djani said.
The reason Obama’s lie was so damaging was that many in Congress who were wavering in their support for the deal relied on the “snapback” sanctions provision to sell the deal to the voters. It gave them political cover — exactly what the president and his advisors were hoping.
There is so much in the Iran deal that Obama solemnly told the American people was included, that wasn’t. Even before Trump took America out of the Iran nuclear deal, Russia was shipping enriched uranium back to Iran. The Iranians had their own interpretation of the agreement on installing advanced centrifuges. Yes, they removed most of the older models and replaced them with machines that were three times more efficient at enriching uranium.
The U.S. was angered at the UN response and vowed to keep the pressure on Iran.
“The Trump Administration has no fear in standing in limited company on this matter, in light of the unmistakable truth guiding our actions,” she said. “I only regret that other members of this Council have lost their way and now find themselves standing in the company of terrorists.”
She also said that groups like Hezbollah, the Houthi rebels in Yemen and the Maduro regime in Venezuela will benefit.
The nuclear deal with Iran was the biggest U.S. foreign policy blunder of the last 75 years. And if Iran becomes a nuclear power, it could become the most tragic mistake in history.