State Department Brain Trust Wants To Enforce Iran Deal It Tore Up Two Years Ago
In today's edition of Just Say Any Crazy Shit That Pops In Your Head, But Like Real Loud So They Know You Mean It, Mike Pompeo's State Department has an exciting new plan to enforce the Iran nuclear deal. Because Secretary of State Pompeo has zero cogent ideas, but he does know how to shout inanities so they echo all over Foggy Bottom.
Astute observers will note that the US pulled out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, AKA the Iran nuclear deal, in May of 2018. And, although President Arty McDeals spent the entire campaign promising it would be easy for a leader with his bigly yuge brain and manly hands to get Iran to surrender without precondition and agree to a replacement for "the worst deal I have ever seen," four years later ... we got nothin'. So now we're forced to rant like a lunatic husband who divorces his wife, and then sues her for bigamy when she attempts to remarry.
In light of Iran's January announcement that it will resume enriching uranium without restriction, the New York Times reports Pompeo has a genius plan to "in essence, claim it legally remains a 'participant state' in the nuclear accord that Mr. Trump has denounced — but only for the purposes of invoking a 'snapback' that would restore the UN sanctions on Iran that were in place before the accord."
In plain English, the ban on selling regular weapons to Iran expires in October according to the terms of the original deal. Pompeo is probably correct that, if Iran gets its hands on conventional weapons, it will probably send some of them on to its proxies in Hezbollah and to pro-Assad militias in Syria, which is distinctly not helpful. The deal allows any member to invoke a "snapback" of the original arms embargo if Iran violates the deal, so Mike Pompeo is aggressively snapping his fingers in the general direction of the UN, insisting sanctions be reimposed in light of Iran's stated intention to enrich uranium past the limits of the agreement.
First Pompeo's aides cited a speech President Barack Obama gave in 2015, touting the US's ability to unilaterally reimpose sanctions if Iran violated the deal, saying "we won't need the support of other members of the UN Security Council: America can trigger snapback on our own." Then Pompeo pivoted to shitting on Trump's predecessor. Because that train is never late.
"We cannot allow the Islamic Republic of Iran to purchase conventional weapons in six months. President Obama should never have agreed to end the UN arms embargo," Pompeo told the Times, adding, "We are prepared to exercise all of our diplomatic options to ensure the arms embargo stays in place at the UN Security Council."
Except ... we don't have any diplomatic options because we pulled out of the deal two years ago! Which means Obama's description of our snapback powers is entirely irrelevant today. And while we might be able to pressure other countries that remain parties to the agreement to reimpose sanctions, we ourselves are no longer in a position to do it.
The Times's David Sanger explains that the strategy, insofar as there is one, is for the US to propose an arms embargo at the UN, knowing it would be immediately vetoed by Russia or China. At which point the US would insist that, as an original signatory, it still has the right to invoke the snapback provision, despite the fact that we announced a pullout and reimposed sanctions on Iran in violation of the agreement. Every other country on earth would ignore the US, which has no leg to stand on here, then Trump would go out on the campaign trail to praise his own peerless victory in forcing the UN to get tough with Iran. Because, shit, it's not like the rubes at the rally are going to check, right?
Trump promised every problem had an easy fix, and all it would take to get the world to stop laughing at us was a firm hand in the White House. Now we're a global laughingstock drinking a bleach smoothie for breakfast.
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Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.