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While all eyes are, understandably, on the horrific war Russia inflicted upon Ukraine, scant little attention has been paid to the Iran nuclear negotiations in Vienna and the imminent deal. What seems to have also escaped public purview is that America, which was not even allowed into the room to negotiate directly with the Iran, has allowed Russia interlocutor Mikhail Ulyanov to be our water carrier in these critical negotiations. 

It is nothing short of diplomatic malpractice for the American team, headed by Robert Malley, to let a Russian emissary to the Iran negotiations be our water carrier. For months during these talks, Russia has made its imperial designs on Ukraine quite clear, threatening NATO and all of the West as well.  

It has been made transparent that Russia under Putin has no love lost for the United States and wants to resurrect the Cold War, with Russia emerging as a major player on the world’s stage.  Yet, for some inexplicable reason, Malley depended on Russia to negotiate for us, in what State Antony Blinken promised to be “a longer, stronger deal” with Iran.  

One hoped for an agreement that would address the issues omitted from the 2015 agreement, such as Iran’s malign behavior throughout the region and the globe, its missile development, and the sunset clauses which are all due to expire in nine short years. (UN Security Council Resolution 2231, regarding the arms embargo, expired in October 2021.) 

A recent viral video shows Ulyanov gloating about his wins for the Islamic republic. Here are his exact words: “Iranian clerics are fighting for Iranian nuclear national interests like lions.” (His emphasis.)  “I am absolutely sincere in this regard. Iran got much more than it could expect, much more….Our Chinese friends were also very efficient and useful as co-negotiators. We could rely on each other on many, many points.” 

On Monday, news broke that at least two Al Quds Force members from the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Iran’s military, are being investigated for plotting to assassinate former National Security Advisor John Bolton, but the Biden administration has resisted publicly indicting these men for fear of derailing the Iran deal. Why is the administration going to such lengths to whitewash the Iranian regime?  

Iran is the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, exporting it throughout the globe. This is the same Islamic Republic that leads its people in chants of “Death to America.” This is the same regime responsible for the deaths and injuries of thousands of Americans during the Iraq war. This is the same regime that for years harassed US vessels in international waters, sent drones to attack Saudi oil fields, and on January 17 conducted a drone and missile attack on the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, murdering three.  On January 24, the regime shot a missile at the Al-Dhafra Air Base in Abu Dhabi which houses 2,000 American servicemen, which was thankfully intercepted by American and UAE missiles. 

Gabriel Noronha is a former high-ranking State Department official who served on the Iran desk during the Trump administration. Lest someone accuses him of being a partisan right winger, he resigned due to the events of January 6th. His former colleagues at the State Department, the National Security Council and the European Union were so aghast at the degree of capitulations to Iran that they contacted him, in the hope that he would leak this to the world.  

In Noronha’s words, “The entire negotiations have been filtered and essentially run by Russian diplomat Mikhail Ulyanov,” and “The deal being negotiated in Vienna is dangerous to our national security interests.” 

The US will lift sanctions against 112 of the world’s worst terrorists and human rights abusers, including Brig. Gen. Hussein Deghan of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), who was responsible for the 1983 Hezbollah bombing of Beirut, killing 241 American servicemembers while they were asleep in their barracks.  

Sanctions would be lifted as well on Mohsen Rezaei and Ali Abkhar Veleyati who were responsible for planning Hezbollah’s 1994 attack on the AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, killing 85 civilians and maiming hundreds of others. Also lifted would be the sanctions against Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, “the butcher of Tehran,” who presided over sham trials of over 5,000 dissidents that, according to Noronha “typically lasted only a few minutes before the guilty verdict was delivered.”  

Sanctions would be further lifted on Ahmad Jannati, a cleric described by Noronha as “pure evil,” and “routinely pushing the regime to kill protesters.” Jannati admitted that, when told that a prison in the Khuzestan province was getting overcrowded, he “volunteered to go serve there as a judge.” Both he and Raisi are responsible for the blood of thousands of dissidents and LGBT people. 

Noronha also revealed that there will be a $7 billion signing bonus for Iran from assets in South Korea, they will reportedly receive an additional $90 billion. 

None of this has anything to do with Iran’s nuclear activity. In Noronha’s words, “the removal of these sanctions under a nuclear deal constitutes a farce.” Yet lawyers for the State Department want to avoid taking this to Congress, claiming this is actually “returning to the JCPOA.”  

Past performance is always the best indicator of future behavior. In 2015, we were promised that once a deal was brokered, the Islamic Republic’s behavior would be moderated, “and they will be part of the community of nations.” One has to ask how well Iran performed in the seven years since the agreement was reached. 

We know that Iran was supposed to have capped its limit of enrichment of uranium to 3.65% which is used for “peaceful purposes.” However, it enriched to 60%, which is an easy glide to the 90% necessary for a nuclear bomb. 

Iran also hid its nuclear sites from the International Atomic Energy Administration (IAEA) inspectors so much that IAEA Director-General Rafael Grossi said Oct. 23 that the IAEA’s access to a key facility has been restricted, “making it impossible to reconstruct the picture.” 

None of the $150 billion given to Iran by the Obama administration as a result of the 2015 JCPOA ever made its way to Iran’s hungry people. Instead, it went to their nuclear programs, to their missile development and to a myriad of proxy terrorist organizations that have sewn unrest throughout the globe, including Hezbollah, the IRGC, the Houthis and Hamas.  They have used it to build their infamous land bridge stretching from Tehran through Baghdad, Damascus and Beirut and all the way to the Mediterranean. They are now replicating this in Africa and Latin America, particularly in Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil, and taking advantage of the drug cartels in Mexico, equipping them with the tunnel-building know-how of Hamas.  

This not only affects the national security interests of Israel and our Sunni Gulf allies, but those of the United States as well.  We know that the entire nuclear non-proliferation structure will erode because once Iran has a bomb, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Egypt will too. The entire region will become a nuclear powder keg.  

We fear that because our oil and gas supply from Russia is now, (rightfully) sanctioned, the administration will be even more anxious to broker a deal with Iran, to be able to use their vast oil reserves and keep the price of gas at the pump down. 

Because of the far-reaching concessions of the first Iranian deal (which pale in comparison to what is offered now), the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act was passed in 2015.  It mandates that the administration must submit a deal before Congress for evaluation within five days before any agreement with Iran is finalized, as well as any related documents and side deals. 

This agreement is of such gravity that it constitutes a treaty, and needs to be submitted to the Senate for a two-thirds vote for ratification.  

In either case, it is imperative to have a free and open public debate as to whether this agreement would help our long-term national security interest. If it is not submitted to Congress, it could only be because the negotiators realize that it is simply too weak to stand up to congressional and public scrutiny.  

Our greatest fear is that behind closed doors, a horrific deal will be struck, and vast sums of money will be put in the Iranian coffers, which they will only use to further their imperialist quest for global hegemony and the global export of the Shiite revolution.  

To what lengths must we go to suppress the horrific behavior of this regime, just to  be able to wave a piece of paper, a la Neville Chamberlain, and say we have a deal?  

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About the Author

Sarah Stern
Sarah Stern is founder and president of the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET).

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