by BENNY AVNI, Chief Foreign Correspondent of the New York Sun.
Wednesday, March 2, 2022
A new deal with the ayatollahs would include a staggering hostage ransom sum totaling as much as 25 percent of Tehran’s entire annual budget.
Read it at the link above please so that they get the clicks and recognition. I am archiving the article since I expect it is or will be suppressed.
Shaping up as an even larger capitulation than the articles of appeasement struck with Iran in 2015, the Biden administration could sign in Vienna as early as Monday a new deal with the ayatollahs that would include a staggering hostage ransom sum totaling as much as 25 percent of Tehran’s entire annual budget.
Several sources in Washington say that the Vienna talks between six top world powers and Iran could conclude as early as Monday. Washington officials caution that “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed,” but Iran watchers note that Nuwruz, the 13-day New Year holiday in Persia, starts March 20. Because adherents don’t work during Nuwruz, the window to conclude a deal is short.
Ironically, despite the tough anti-Kremlin talk in Washington, the Russian ambassador in Vienna, Mikhail Ulyanov, is a key player in the attempt to renew the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, out of which President Trump took America. The Biden administration is said to be as eager for a quick handshake as the Iranians, who are allied with Moscow. The administration also is said to be hoping any congressional pushback would weaken as the Ukraine crisis rages on.
Reuters reported recently that President Biden’s envoy to the talks, Robert Malley, offered to unfreeze $7 billion from Iranian funds held in South Korean banks in exchange for the release of four Americans held in Iran. Sources tell the Sun that similar frozen accounts in Japan, Iraq, and China would be added to the pot, raising the ante to as much as $11 billion. That works out to more than $2.5 billion a hostage.
Iran’s annual budget is estimated at $40 billion.
A former American hostage in Iran, Xiyue Wang, warns that such a deal would encourage more undue imprisonments in Iran. Washington has imposed “not a single sanction” in connection with Iran’s frequent hostage-taking, Mr. Wang told the Sun, “so they have no reason to stop it. Keeping people in prison costs them nothing.”
In summer 2016 Mr. Wang was arrested on unsubstantiated espionage charges while researching Persian history as he worked toward his Ph.D. from Princeton. A year later, while in Iran’s dungeons, he was sentenced for 10 years in prison. “When I was arrested I hoped President Obama would be able to release me,” Mr. Wang said. In 2018, when President Trump exited the Iran deal, Mr. Wang knew his release would take longer than he anticipated, which it did. In December 2019, he was finally freed in an exchange for one Iranian held in America. No money changed hands.
“I have a very clean conscience,” Mr. Wang says. “America did not pay ransom, and the Iranian that was released was due to get released anyway. It was the best deal possible.”
Last year Mr. Malley said release of the four Americans held in Iran was not part of the Vienna JCPOA renewal talks. Yet pressure from former hostages, including Barry Rosen, who went on a hunger strike in Vienna, apparently changed Mr. Malley’s mind.
Large ransom totals for hostages and other avenues of funding are far from the only concessions America reportedly plans to give the mullahs. A former Iran hand at the State Department, Gabriel Noronha, detailed some such giveaways today on Twitter.
“My former career @StateDept, NSC, and EU colleagues are so concerned with the concessions being made by @RobMalley in Vienna that they’ve allowed me to publish some details of the coming deal in the hopes that Congress will act to stop the capitulation,” Mr. Noronha’s Tweet said.
In his long Twitter thread, Mr. Noronha reports that Mr. Malley has agreed to drop sanctions against top mullahs, including Supreme Leader Khamenei, as well as remove the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps from the State Department’s list of terror organizations.
Altogether, sanctions on 112 Iranian persons and entities that were imposed by Mr. Trump in executive orders would be removed, according to Mr. Noronha. Other concessions are likely to be explained away by the administration as a reversal of Mr. Trump’s alleged bad Iran policy.
“The administration will carefully consider the facts and circumstances of any U.S. return to the JCPOA to determine the legal implications,” a State Department spokesman told NBC news, adding, “The president believes that a bipartisan approach to Iran is the strongest way to safeguard U.S. interests for the long-term.”
Iran, meanwhile, would pay little if anything in return for those concessions. A return to the original 2015 deal would allow it to wait for sunset clauses that gradually phase out limitations on Tehran’s nuclear program, and remove all restrictions by 2031 — i.e., less than a decade from now. Tehran even demands a lowering of inspections of its nuclear sites.
The United Arab Emirates’ ambassador at the United Nations, Lana Nusseibeh, who assumed the Security Council’s rotating presidency Monday, said it was unclear whether a new Iran deal would require an endorsement resolution by the Security Council. The original JCPOA wasn’t signed by either side, and its only legal backing is the Security Council’s Resolution 2231.
“What is clear,” Ms. Nusseibeh told the Sun, is that once again the deal “will not address a very turbulent regional security environment and a very stressed regional security architecture.”
Specifically, she added, it would fail to restrict Iranian production of ballistic missiles, like the ones that Iran’s Yemeni proxies, the Houthis, have been using to attack the UAE.
As the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies’ Iran watcher, Behnam ben Taleblu, said, “Negotiating an agreement — midwifed by the Russians no less — that offers more sanctions relief than found in the JCPOA for shorter-lived nuclear restrictions is peak folly.”