AP: U.S. Expanding Scope of Sanctions Relief, Freeing More Money for Iran in Nuke Deal

The Obama administration is poised to redefine many terror and human rights sanctions imposed on Iran as nuclear-related sanctions, with an eye towards lifting them and providing a greater boost to Iran’s economy as part of an emerging nuclear deal, the Associated Press (AP) reported today. According to anonymous officials quoted by the AP, the administration feels that without broadening the scope of sanctions relief, the emerging deal “risks unraveling.”

Reportedly, the administration believes that a deal limiting Iran’s nuclear program and keeping it at least a year away from developing a nuclear bomb is “within reach.”

In return the U.S. would grant billions of dollars in relief from sanctions that have crippled Iran’s economy. But the whole package risks unraveling if the U.S. cannot provide the relief without scrapping sanctions unrelated to Iran’s nuclear program.

According to the AP, administration officials believe that “there is no way to give Iran the sanctions relief justified by its compliance” without easing restrictions, for example, on the Iranian Central Bank. In 2001, the bank was identified as a “primary money laundering concern” and sanctioned for activity related to “ballistic missile research, terror financing and support for Syrian President Bashar Assad.” With a nuclear deal reportedly close, Iran is demanding an end to sanctions on the bank, which administration officials are now claiming are all nuclear-related.

The AP explains that the issue lies with defining nuclear-related sanctions.

For example, they say measures designed to stop Iran from acquiring ballistic missiles are nuclear-related because they were imposed to push Iran into the negotiations. Also, they say sanctions that may appear non-nuclear are often undergirded by previous actions conceived as efforts to stop Iran’s nuclear program.

The administration’s reported effort flatly contradicts a claim made in the White House’s fact sheet, which was published this past April after an understanding was reached between the P5+1 nations and Iran in Lausanne, Switzerland. The fact sheet states, “U.S. sanctions on Iran for terrorism, human rights abuses, and ballistic missiles will remain in place under the deal.”

The AP report follows one published yesterday by Bloomberg News claiming that the United States and other Western nations were ignoring ongoing Iranian violations of the existing sanctions regime.

[Photo: The White House / You Tube ]