I don’t know if they hired a bunch of comedy writers at the White House or not, but the administration’s explanation for lifting some economic sanctions on Iran strains credulity and would elicit some giggles if it weren’t so incredibly serious.
The economic sanctions lifted by the Treasury Department are of minor irritation to Tehran. They lifted sanctions on some officials of the Iranian state oil company and several other companies involved in shipping and trading petrochemical products.
But the timing of the announcement should raise a few eyebrows. Iran will hold a presidential election in a couple of weeks, and it could be that Biden is trying to strengthen the “moderate” forces in Iran ahead of the vote.
Otherwise, it’s just a complete cave-in to the terrorists, who have been demanding that sanctions be lifted before any progress is made in Iran and the U.S. rejoins the 2015 nuclear deal.
The administration described the moves as routine administrative actions, saying the officials were removed from U.S. blacklists because they no longer held positions in the sanctioned entities.
But officials familiar with talks under way in Vienna on the future of the 2015 multilateral Iran nuclear agreement said the Biden administration has been looking at how it could inject momentum into the negotiations. Oil prices tumbled nearly 2% after the news, but quickly regained their losses, continuing to trade over $70 a barrel.
“Routine administrative actions”? Who are they trying to kid? Certainly not the Iranians, who see any weakness on the part of the United States as a reason to dig in their heels on making any concessions at all.
“These actions demonstrate our commitment to lifting sanctions in the event of a change in status or behavior by sanctioned persons,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.
So, not much “routine” about that.
State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters later Thursday that the actions have “absolutely no connection” to ongoing negotiations on the nuclear agreement. A Treasury official also said, “This is not a wider easing of sanctions on the oil sector of Iran.”
The Iranian mission to the United Nations didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
U.S. and European officials have said significant differences remain between Washington and Tehran over how to restore the nuclear deal, including the extent of any potential sanctions relief.
I call BS on the Treasury official who claimed there was no connection to the nuclear talks. Of course it’s connected. Since Iran and the U.S. aren’t talking, this is the only way the two sides can communicate. Biden is telling Tehran it won’t take much progress to get us to remove most of the sanctions.
It’s doubtful Iran will reciprocate. They don’t have to. As long as Biden is lifting sanctions while Iran gives nothing in return, wouldn’t you wait to see what else he’ll give away if you were Iran?