U.S. Government’s Internal Watchdog Says State Department Is Failing to Apply Sanctions Against Iran

The U.S. government’s internal monitoring organization has determined that the State Department is three years late in applying certain sanctions to Iran, Al-Monitor reported Wednesday. The report raises questions over whether the State Department is intentionally delaying sanctions on Iran as negotiations over its nuclear program continue. The report (.pdf), issued by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), was submitted to the House Foreign Affairs Committee and was the subject of a hearing on Wednesday.

The Iran, North Korea, and Syria Nonproliferation Act (INKSNA) mandates that the State Department must apply sanctions if those countries attempt to procure missile technologies or weapons of mass destruction. The State Department’s delayed compliance with INKSNA, according to the GAO, “may diminish the credibility of the threatened sanction.”

The GAO report also indicated that the State Department failed to adequately comply with INKSNA’s requirement that it report to Congress every six months on whether Iran, North Korea, or Syria attempted to acquire the aforementioned materials. Congress only received the 2011 report in December 2014.

Al-Monitor wrote that the GAO report “is but the latest example of questionable sanctions enforcement that has raised congressional ire in recent months.” The U.S. failed to respond in time to the illegal sale of airplanes to Iranian airliner Mahan Air. A UN panel of experts reported that countries were withholding intelligence on Iranian sanctions violations due to a “political decision” to ensure that the nuclear talks were not disrupted.

When asked by Al-Monitor why she scheduled the hearing so close to the June 30 deadline for the nuclear talks House Foreign Affairs Committee chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R – Fla.) said that she wanted to emphasize the White House’s “hypocrisy” over congressional sanctions on Iran. She added that the failure to apply such sanctions sends “a signal to the international community that the United States is not serious about any of our sanctions.”

[Photo: United States Mission Geneva / Flickr ]