Unbelievable: New York Times claims snapback 'an Easy Way to Reimpose Iran Penalties'

The New York Times has gone into full Obama Ministry of Propaganda mode with an article today by Somni Sengupta, headlined “‘Snapback’ Is an Easy Way to Reimpose Iran Penalties.”

Actually, it will be far from easy to reimpose the sanctions that have crippled Iran, but the headline will be read and cited by most of the dominant media from which Americans get their news, and it will become accepted as fact that there is little danger of Iranian misbehavior owing to the ease to re-establishing sanctions.

Patrick Goodenough exposes the Big Lie pushed by the Times at CNS News:

The much-touted “snapback” provision in the Iran nuclear deal that will restore sanctions in the event of Iranian noncompliance involves a convoluted process that will last around 65 days and, after jumping a series of hurdles, may result in sanctions being reimposed – “unless the U.N. Security Council decides otherwise.”

That phrase in the final agreement text – “unless the U.N. Security Council decides otherwise” – is not explained or qualified in any way, raising the possibility that, despite assertions to the contrary, Iran’s longstanding ally and trading partner Russia, or indeed China, could ultimately block the move.

Furthermore, another as-yet little discussed element of the final Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is the fact that, even were sanctions reinstated, they would not retroactively affect business contracts that Iran has already signed by that point, unless those contracts are themselves in violation of the JCPOA or Security Council resolutions.

(So in the event of sanctions “snapback” actually occurring, a hypothetical lucrative oil deal with a European company that does not in itself violate the broader nuclear agreement or Security Council resolutions would be able to go ahead unimpeded, despite Iran’s JCPOA non-compliance.)

There will be a gold rush and contracts signed rapidly for all sorts of goods, including enhancement of Iran’s oil production capacity.  These contracts can stay in place!  It is closing the barn door after the horses are gone to invoke snapback.  But the Times does not clue in its readers.

“Since there is likely to be a ‘gold rush’ of business rushing to sign deals with Iran upon lifting of sanctions, this exception might prove a pretty big hole in the ‘snapped-back’ sanctions,” Julian Ku, professor of law at Hofstra University’s School of Law, wrote on the Opinio Juris blog Tuesday.

“The expected Chinese and Russian deals with Iran for arms sales and oil purchases could survive any snapback, even if Iran was caught cheating,” Ku argued.

Even worse, as Investor’s Business Daily notes:

… the process also requires going through an international "joint commission," then an international "advisory board," which would likely take more than two months. Moreover, within the agreement is a key passage: "Iran has stated that if sanctions are reinstated in whole or in part, Iran will treat that as grounds to cease performing its commitments" under the pact.

In other words, if Iran cheats and we do anything about it, the deal is dead. Is Barack Obama going to do that? Not on your legacy (or, rather, his). And the next president, even a Republican, might have reasons not to do it either.

As Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry, an Ethics and Public Policy Center fellow, writes in TheWeek.com: "In the real world, once sanctions are scrapped, political pressure to keep the sanctions gone, particularly from elites in places that do business with Iran — like Russia, China, Germany and France — will be enormous."

What's more, a paper last month from the Foundation For Defense of Democracies warned, "In the later years of the agreement, international companies may have invested tens of billions of dollars back into Iran and will likely be less willing to forgo their business interests because of Iranian nuclear violations."

So the soon-to-come sanctions relief under the pact will actually blunt the pain of re-imposed sanctions.

So the New York Times, in its pilot fish role, is propagating a huge misinterpretation of the Iran deal, one designed to ensure its sailing through congressional opposition.

Hat tip: Ed Lasky

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