Report details Obama-era bid to skirt Iran sanctions

09 June, 2018, 20:35 | Author: Kim Reid
  • Obama administration tried secret bank workaround for Iran, new report says

Yet two years later, the revelation is re-igniting the bitter debate over the nuclear deal and whether former President Barack Obama was too eager to grant concessions to Tehran. Then-Treasury Secretary Jack Lew testified earlier than the Senate Overseas Relations Committee in July 2015 that Iran "will proceed to be denied entry to the [U.S.] monetary and industrial market" beneath the nuclear deal, formally often known as the Joint Complete Plan of Motion, or JCPOA. If the Omani bank had allowed the exchange without such a license, it would have violated sanctions that bar Iran from transactions that touch the US financial system. (Full disclosure: My wife works for Portman).

Retired Staff Sgt. Robert Bartlett, who was seriously wounded in Iraq in 2005 by a roadside bomb made in Iran, called out the previous administration for talking tough on Iran and then allowing the Islamic republic to skirt sanctions that remained in place after the 2015 nuclear agreement. A few weeks later, one of Lew's top deputies, Adam Szubin, used the exact same words in testimony to the Senate banking committee. The Washington Examiner reports that the Obama administration secretly gave Iran access to USA financial systems and marketplaces contrary to current law on the books created by heavy sanctions imposed against the state sponsor of global terror.

"The report outlines key transparency recommendations to ensure these secret side deals never happen again, including requiring the current administration to keep congressional committees of jurisdiction up to date on the status of any future negotiations with Iran, disclosing to Congress any specific licenses that are proposed, and putting in place stronger enforcement of USA sanctions", Portman said.

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The issue also shows the importance of a close working relationship on such deals between Treasury and State, and the importance of closely overseeing such deals, the report says.

Senate Republicans contend the Obama administration misled the American people because it had repeatedly promised Congress that Iran wouldn't gain access to America's financial system. And in a June 2016 letter to Sens.

Not so, former Obama administration officials said, arguing the decision to grant the license adhered to the spirt of the deal, which included allowing Iran to regain access to foreign reserves that had been off-limits because of USA sanctions. They did this by first exchanging the Omani currency into US dollars. This was patently false. This authorization came in the form of a specific license and was for the express goal of easing Iran's conversion of the $5.7 billion from rials to dollars to euros. "He explained OFAC would only take action in egregious situations".

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A Senate subcommittee report alleges that the Obama administration secretly sought to give Iran access to US financial systems by sidestepping sanctions kept in place after the 2015 nuclear deal.

How bad is this? Democrats would be holding news conferences, and the story would be front-page news. Still, it went above and beyond what the Obama administration was required to do under the terms of the nuclear agreement.

Marc Thiessen is a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and the former chief speechwriter for President George W. Bush. Despite issuing the specific license to allow Iran to access the USA financial system, Bank Muscat was unable to effectuate the conversion using the US dollar.

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Former Obama administration officials declined to comment for the record.

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