[mc_name name='Sen. John Kerry (D-MA)' chamber='senate' mcid='K000148' ] Secretary of State Nomination Hearing

Yesterday the P5+1 group (5 permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany) negotiating with Iran over its nuclear weapons program announced in would make another deadline extension, this one of seven months:

A yearlong effort to reach an enduring accord with Iran to dismantle large parts of its nuclear infrastructure fell short on Monday, forcing the United States and its allies to declare a seven-month extension, but with no clear indication of why they think they can ultimately overcome the political obstacles that have so far blocked a deal.

The failure to agree even on the framework for a comprehensive deal, after extended high-level diplomacy over an issue that was arguably President Obama’s top foreign policy priority, had to be a disappointment for the administration.

This is a fools errand and makes the US look foolish. China and Russia are actively helping Iran avoid economic sanctions. France would sell its mother to an Armenian whoremonger if it resulted in new business for French oligopolies. In his statement, John Kerry said:

And I would say to those who are skeptical, those who wonder whether we should rush ahead down a different course, I believe the United States and our partners have earned the benefit of the doubt at this point. Many were quick to say that the Joint Plan of Action would be violated; it wouldn’t hold up, it would be shredded. Many said that Iran would not hold up its end of the bargain. Many said that the sanctions regime would collapse. But guess what? The interim agreement wasn’t violated. Iran has held up its end of the bargain, and the sanctions regime has remained intact.

In its best light, this statement is so delusional that Kerry should be on medication. At its worst, Kerry is lying about an issue of immense national security importance and knows he is doing so.

Kerry’s statement relies upon two interconnected idea. First, that the Joint Plan of Action (JPOA) actually freezes Iran’s nuclear program if Iran is complaint with agreement and, secondly, that Iran is actually complying with its obligations. For instance:

  • Under the JPOA, Iran had pledged to freeze its centrifuge activity at its Natanz research facility. The IAEA noted that Iran was feeding uranium hexafluoride gas into it’s centrifuges at Natanz. The Iranian ambassador to the IAEA, Reza Najafi, said  admits that is happening but says those are DIFFERENT centrifuges.
  • Iran is not allowed to stockpile enriched uranium above a certain level, but the IAEA reports they have ignored that ceiling.
  • Iran has agreed to limit oil exports to 1 million barrels per day as a condition for negotiations. In fact, they are exporting nearly twice that amount.

As Foreign Policy points out, the Iranian negotiations are built on four myths, primary among them is that Iran actually wants a deal and that the negotiators can actually make a deal. Indeed, in order to keep even the facade of a deal the administration has buckled to the Iranians on two critical issues: the proliferation of ballistic missile technology and a full disclosure of past nuclear weapons research.

The only bright point is that the new Congress will probably not be as compliant and lap-doggish as the current one.

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman [mc_name name=’Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’R000487′ ] said Obama should support new sanctions as a way to increase leverage on Iran.

“This seven-month extension should be used to tighten the economic vice on Tehran — already suffering from falling energy prices — to force the concessions that Iran has been resisting,” Royce said in a statement.

Royce was backed by panel Democrat [mc_name name=’Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’S000344′ ], who said new sanctions are the “best hope for a good agreement.”

House Speaker [mc_name name=’Rep. John Boehner (R-OH)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’B000589′ ] was more vague in urging pressure on Tehran.

“Instead of giving Iran more flexibility, we should be holding this regime accountable for the threat it poses to the region,” Boehner said.

[mc_name name=’Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’C001071′ ], tipped to replace Menendez as the powerful Foreign Relations chairman when Republicans take full control of Congress in January, supported a threat of new sanctions should the Iran deal ultimately fall apart.

“Congress must have the opportunity to weigh in before implementation of any final agreement and begin preparing alternatives, including tougher sanctions, should negotiations fail,” Corker.

It is really difficult to see what will possibly change in the next seven months given the utterly dishonesty of Iran and the stupidity of allowing Iran’s allies to be a party to the negotiations. It seems equally obvious that Iran’s nuclear program will be an issue in the 2016 election and we’ll get a chance to hear how Hillary would have fixed this if only she’d been Secretary of State or something.