Iran pushes Obama to the wall on sanction relief: when will he cave?

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani said in a speech yesterday that sanctions must be lifted "immediately and on the same day" following the acceptance of the final agreement by the U.N. Security Council, or there will be no deal.

This directly contradicts what the administration has been saying about the timing of sanctions relief for Iran.  All U.S. pronouncements on the framework agreement have said that the sanctions would be lifted gradually over a number of years.

The Iranians are looking to push Obama to the wall to see if they can wring one last major concession from him – in addition to the numerous cave-ins on important issues that Obama has already done.

"We will not sign any deal unless all sanctions are lifted on the same day," Rouhani said, according to Reuters. "We want a win-win deal for all parties involved in the nuclear talks."

Rouhani was speaking at a ceremony to mark Iran's nuclear technology day. "The Iranian nation has been and will be the victor in the negotiations," he said.

This is just one of several issues from the framework agreement that Iran is interpreting differently from how Washington is looking at things.  Other points of interpretive disagreement include what will be allowed as far as nuclear work at the formerly secret facility at Fordow, the modernizing of Iran's centrifuge techonology, and whether or not the IAEA will be able to inspect military sites.

Iranian Defense Minister Hossein Dehqan today said that the Lausanne Framework does not commit Iran to provide international inspectors access to such military facilities. From Fars News:

Iranian Minister of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan has rejected reports on inspection of the country’s military facilities being included in the recent deal achieved by Iran and the world powers (P5+1) in Switzerland’s Lausanne on April 2, Fars news agency reported on April 8. According to Fars, commenting on “domestic media highlighting such baseless claims by foreign media about the Lausanne agreement,” Dehqan said, “Such actions do not serve national interests, but in fact set the ground for enemy’s excessive demands… The Supreme Leader’s, the government’s approach and the determination of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s nuclear negotiating team together do not allow the other party to impose anything on the Iranian nation.” Referring to “false claims by foreign media outlets such as the Guardian newspaper” on inspection of the country’s military facilities being a part of the Lausanne statement, Dehqan stressed: “There is no such agreement. Basically, inspection of military facilities is a red line and no inspection of any kind from such facilities would be accepted.”

So the Iranian government now contradicts President Obama’s announcement and the State Department fact-sheet with regard to when sanctions will be lifted, centrifuges, enrichment, and even plutonium. Now let’s add inspections and possible military dimensions to the list. Obama is right. The Lausanne agreement is historic. It will be studied by generations of diplomats who will use it to illustrate American naïveté, Iranian duplicity, and the dangers of not actually gaining agreements in writing.

Makes one speechless with anger.  Richard Fernandez found his voice:

It’s hard not to think that Iran is out to humiliate Barack Hussein Obama.  With this calculated slight, they not only want to wipe the floor with his reputation, they want to see him crawl.  And he probably will. Obama gave them Iraq, allowed Iran into Syria, permitted Hezbollah to take over Lebanon, let them run him out of Yemen, all in the expectation that Rouhani would give him his “game changer”, his “once in a lifetime deal”.

Surely after all that … And now after he’s handed in all that earnest money and proclaimed his purchase to the world they won’t deliver the merchandise. He’s been had, pure and simple.  They gave him a special surprise gift and he’s proudly opened it in front of relatives and friends only to discover it contains a pile of …

Iran know he won’t fight because he’s already scuttled his position in Iraq and allowed himself to be humiliated in Syria by drawing “red lines” with crayons. His “moderate rebels forces” in Syra have all defected to someone else.  Iran watched America flee from Yemen — Obama’s counterinsurgency model — leaving a list of local US intelligence agents to fall into their hands. Those men are probably being hunted down or dying in agony.  Tehran probably gaped in amusement as he made enemies with their oldest ally in the Middle East, Israel — all for the sake of the agreement they have now thrown in his face.

If Obama was going to fight, he would have done so already. And now it’s too late. Who in the region will trust Barack Obama? Israel? The survivors of Yemen?  A loyal remnant in Syria?  Maybe someone in Anbar who fought for America and then escaped first from ISIS and then the IRG?  Maybe there’s somebody left who hasn’t been sold out.

So let’s ask Marie Harf: how does it feel to be double crossed?  In a way this final act of cruelty is not in Iran’s interest.  The Hill reports that the Left had gone all out to endorse Obama’s “historic” deal.  ”Liberal Democrats have mounted a furious offensive to convince Senate Democrats to oppose legislation the White House warns could kill a nuclear deal with Iran.” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) declared that “these negotiations must be allowed to proceed unencumbered”.

Iran may be out to humiliate Obama, but in order to be humiliated, one has to possess the ability for introspection.  Obama can't be humiliated, because he has demonstrated no such ability over the past six years.  And now that he has invested his entire presidency – and his legacy – in an Iran deal, he will no doubt do everything in his power to paper over these differences, ignore what he has said in the past, and simply yield to the mullahs on every major point of disagreement.

How many Democrats will continue to pretend they think this deal is "historic"?  Probably most of them, since a failure now would destroy the rest of Obama's presidency.  But the rest of our allies – the French, British, and Germans – might not be as comfortable with surrendering to Iran as the president is.  At the very least, France may be willing to walk out if the final deal shapes up the way that it appears it will.

Prime Minister Netanyahu appears to be more and more of a soothsayer the farther we delve into this deal.