Fox News is reporting that “some senior U.S. officials involved in the implementation of the Iran nuclear deal” have concluded that the Iran nuke deal violates federal law, in part because of legislation that President Barack Obama himself signed into law in 2012.
“Complicated legal language” in the existing federal statute “could jeopardize” a key sanctions-relief provision in the agreement — a concession to Iran that opens up tens of billions of dollars in U.S.-backed commerce with Iran.
James Rosen had the exclusive on Special Report Thursday evening.
At issue is a passage tucked away in ancillary paperwork attached to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, as the Iran nuclear deal is formally known. Specifically, Section 5.1.2 of Annex II provides that in exchange for Iranian compliance with the terms of the deal, the U.S. “shall…license non-U.S. entities that are owned or controlled by a U.S. person to engage in activities with Iran that are consistent with this JCPOA.”
In short, this means that foreign subsidiaries of U.S. parent companies will, under certain conditions, be allowed to do business with Iran. The problem is that the Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act (ITRA), signed into law by President Obama in August 2012, was explicit in closing the so-called “foreign sub” loophole.
Indeed, ITRA also stipulated, in Section 218, that when it comes to doing business with Iran, foreign subsidiaries of U.S. parent firms shall in all cases be treated exactly the same as U.S. firms: namely, what is prohibited for U.S. parent firms has to be prohibited for foreign subsidiaries, and what is allowed for foreign subsidiaries has to be allowed for U.S. parent firms.
What’s more, ITRA contains language, in Section 605, requiring that the terms spelled out in Section 218 shall remain in effect until the president of the United States certifies two things to Congress: first, that Iran has been removed from the State Department’s list of nations that sponsor terrorism, and second, that Iran has ceased the pursuit, acquisition, and development of weapons of mass destruction
To pass the nuke deal, the president had to use executive privilege and go through the UN because he knew he would have lost a treaty fight in the Senate. Now it appears that the president is willing to violate his own federal law so that the Islamic Republic of Iran, a leading sponsor of terrorism, can receive billions of U.S. dollars.
This White House of course isn’t known to be deterred by trivial things like existing federal laws and statutes, so it’s extremely doubtful that the Obama administration will alter its course.
State Department spokesman John Kirby swatted away concerns over the issue, telling reporters on Thursday that Secretary Kerry is “confident” that the administration “has the authority to follow through on” the commitment to re-open the foreign-subsidiary loophole.
“Under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, the president has broad authorities, which have been delegated to the secretary of the Treasury, to license activities under our various sanctions regimes, and the Iran sanctions program is no different,” Kirby said.
Under the Obama administration’s definition of “broad authorities,” is there anything Obama can’t do, if he wishes to do it?