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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Our Hardliners Are Still Helping Iran’s Hardliners

http://lobelog.com/our-hardliners-are-still-helping-irans-hardliners/#more-35872

Our Hardliners Are Still Helping Iran’s Hardliners

by Paul R. Pillar
The unrelenting urge among American politicians to keep punishing Iran—or more precisely, to be seen supporting steps with that objective—continues to work against sensible statecraft and U.S. interests in multiple respects. One of those respects concerns how measures taken by the United States affect political competition within Iran.
Here’s the current background to questions of U.S. policy toward Iran. The most important development in recent years regarding such policy—the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the formal name for the agreement that limits Iran’s nuclear activity—has been in effect for over a year. According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, which does the detailed monitoring of the Iranian program, Iran is fully in compliance with its obligations under the agreement. Those in the United States who have opposed any agreement with Iran all along continue to seek any possible basis for accusing Iran of violations. One of the most recent such accusations concerned some issues of implementation that opponents described as “secret exceptions” granted to Iran. They were in fact not that but rather were typical of the detailed questions that inevitably arise in implementation of any agreement this extensive. A Joint Commission was created under the agreement precisely to resolve such questions, and it has successfully been doing exactly that. The principal real questions of adherence to the agreement involve whether the United States and the West have been fully living up to their obligations regarding sanctions relief and refraining from further steps to damage the Iranian economy.
Despite the record of Iranian compliance, the months since conclusion of the JCPOA have seen a stream of anti-Iran bills introduced in Congress. Examination of most of these bills yields little idea of how if they were to come into effect they would advance any U.S. interests pertinent to Iran, and little evidence of any thought that in this respect went into the writing of the bills. The bills instead seem to be vehicles for members to demonstrate, through their sponsorship or support of such legislation, their anti-Iran credentials. http://lobelog.com/our-hardliners-are-still-helping-irans-hardliners/#more-35872

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