On Sunday, 25 November, in Geneva, the US and Iran made what can only be described as a landmark move towards ending sanctions despite a flurry of activity—including the bombing of the Iranian embassy in Beirut, which killed 23 and wounded 170 others—intended to derail any such progress.
Even the foreign minister of France—a country now beholden to Israeli lobbying and Saudi money—noted that some sanctions currently in place against Iran could be lifted as early as December. Specifically, this initial agreement could free up around $7 billion for Iran--mostly from revenue transfers from restricted crude oil sales--and see the country’s gradual return to the trade in gold, petrochemicals, oil (sort of) and car and plane parts. In essence, though, it’s not a huge deal. Tons of Iranian money will remain frozen, and it will still only be able to export 1 million barrels of oil a day. This is a baby step—but in a barren room where even the smallest footstep echoes endlessly.
In return, Iran will agree to halt the enrichment of uranium beyond 5%, give IAEA inspectors greater freedom to investigate inside the country, and suspend activities at the Arak heavy water enrichment facility.
Under the deal, Iran has six months to try it all on and if compliance does not seem to be forthcoming, the sanctions would be reapplied. (Here is the full deal for those of you who wish to take it apart piece by piece.)
Plenty of Powerful Spoilers
Will the deal go through? Given the level of opposition to it from the powerful Israeli and Saudi lobbies, and the determination of US Congress to see that it doesn’t happen, it’s hard to imagine a future for it. Still, it was hard to imagine it getting this far—and it has.
The Obama administration indeed has much to be thankful for on this holiday—particularly that the deal with Iran in Geneva came during the Thanksgiving break, when Congress was out.
The fight in US Congress will pick up serious momentum next week, when the heavy hitters return from the holiday break, and there are both Democrats and Republicans who oppose the deal. In a taste of what is to come, the key “Iran hawk” in US Congress, South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham, has described the deal as “so far away from what the end game should look like”, which should be to “stop enrichment”.
Likewise, New Jersey Democrat…