Did US Diplomat Deceive Congress on Iran?

Did the Obama Administration get caught telling half-truths about Iran? The world powers gave Iran some sanctions relief in the recent nuclear negotiations, and the US government has claimed it’s only $7 billion worth of relief. But the Israeli newspaper Haaretz has reported that American officials have conceded to Israel that Iran stands to benefit from the sanctions relief a whole lot more than that.

Try $20 billion, at least. Yeah, that’s roughly three times what the US has said. And to make it even more awkward, US Secretary of State John Kerry repeated the lower figure just one day before Haaretz reported the number is likely to be much higher. And Kerry did that to the US Congress.

Perhaps it wasn’t intentional. Maybe it’s one of those, “best case, worst case” scenarios where you don’t tell people the worst case. Maybe it’s all technicalities. Like Iran technically will only get $7 billion in direct sanctions relief, but the deal will encourage trade that will result in more economic benefit.

For example, the Haaretz article reported that Israeli security sources said after the Iran deal the Iranian stock exchange is rising and countries, including China, are “standing in line” to renew trade with Iran. As the Israeli security sources told Haaretz, “Economics is a matter of expectations.”

Regardless, the situation isn’t good and comes as the Obama Administration is trying to convince Congress not to pass any more sanctions on Iran.

One day before the Haaretz report quoted Israeli security sources saying the Americans “understand” that the sanctions relief will result in $20 billion or more in economic benefit for Iran, Kerry asked Congress not to do anything until the six-month interim deal with Iran ends.

“We’re asking you to give our negotiators and our experts the time and the space to do their jobs, and that includes asking you while we negotiate that you hold off imposing new sanctions,” Kerry was quoted by his office as saying. “Now, I’m not saying never. I just told you a few minutes ago if this doesn’t work, we’re coming back and asking you for more.”

But for now, he wants Congress to lay off. But his reasoning isn’t as strong as he wants us to think. Kerry said they have “red-teamed and vetted and cross-examined and run through all the possible numbers through the intel community, through the Treasury Department, through the people in charge of sanctions, and our estimates are that at the end of the six months, if they fully comply, if this holds, they [Iran] would have somewhere in the vicinity of $7 billion total” in sanctions relief.

That was after Kerry slammed estimates of “outlandish numbers” like $30 billion.

Ok, Mr. Kerry, how about $20 billion? Sound about right to you?

(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupdate.com, December 11, 2013)

What do you think?