Four stories on our Iranian "peace partners," for your consideration: (1) On the heels of these unlawful procurement efforts, this embargo-busting arms purchase from Russia, and this British report of ongoing Iranian cheating, we have yet another development underscoring the painfully obvious reality that the regime cannot be trusted (via Reuters):
The Czech Republic blocked an attempted purchase by Iran this year of a large shipment of sensitive technology useable for nuclear enrichment after false documentation raised suspicions, U.N. experts and Western sources said. The incident could add to Western concerns about whether Tehran can be trusted to adhere to a nuclear deal being negotiated with world powers under which it would curb sensitive nuclear work in exchange for sanctions relief...Iran attempted to buy compressors - which have nuclear and non-nuclear applications - made by the U.S.-owned company Howden CKD Compressors...A Czech state official and a Western diplomat familiar with the case confirmed to Reuters that Iran had attempted to buy the shipment from Howden CKD in the Czech Republic, and that Czech authorities had acted to block the deal...The U.N. panel, which monitors compliance with the U.N. sanctions regime, said there had been a "false end user" stated for the order. "The procurer and transport company involved in the deal had provided false documentation in order to hide the origins, movement and destination of the consignment with the intention of bypassing export controls and sanctions," it added.
(2) Our "reset button" pals at the Kremlin have tossed another dash of cold water on President Obama's impotent and unrealistic "snap-back" sanctions threat, in the likely event that Tehran violates the terms of a finalized deal:
The Obama administration is trying to sell a nuclear deal with Iran to skeptical Arabs, Israelis and U.S. lawmakers by saying that United Nations sanctions will be restored automatically if the Iranians are caught cheating. Not so, say the Russians, who have one of five vetoes in the 15-member UN Security Council. “There can be no automaticity, none whatsoever” in reimposing UN sanctions if Iran violates the terms of an agreement to curb its nuclear program, Russia’s UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told Bloomberg News on Wednesday. He didn’t elaborate.
Some people anticipated and raised the alarm over this precise problem. Once the sanctions are gone, they're not coming back. And Iran is demanding immediate and total nuclear sanctions relief at the front end of the deal, not contingent on their ongoing compliance. Astoundingly, the Obama administration is entertaining this possibility. (3) More bellicosity on the high seas, in addition to this and this. Remember, this is the time frame in which one might expect Iran to be on its best behavior, not acting in a deliberately provocative manner. They're enjoying a sense of impunity, it seems, thanks to the West's embarrassingly weak bargaining crouch:
Five Iranian boats fired shots across the bow of a Singapore flagged cargo vessel in the Persian Gulf on Thursday in an attempt to potentially stop the ship, a U.S. official told CNN. For the first time, the incident brought another Persian Gulf nation into the recent rising maritime tensions in the region. It is not yet clear if any of the rounds hit the Alpine Eternity. There were no U.S. citizens or cargo on board. The Pentagon is still gathering information about the incident. The incident began when five small fast boats, believed to be manned by Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy approached the cargo vessel just off the coast of the United Arab Emirates but in international water, the official said.
(4) Critics of the Iran deal have also warned of a nuclear arms race in the Middle East -- the worst possible neighborhood for such a competition to heat up. Surprise:
When President Obama began making the case for a deal with Iran that would delay its ability to assemble an atomic weapon, his first argument was that a nuclear-armed Iran would set off a “free-for-all” of proliferation in the Arab world. “It is almost certain that other players in the region would feel it necessary to get their own nuclear weapons,” he said in 2012. Now, as he gathered Arab leaders over dinner at the White House on Wednesday and prepared to meet with them at Camp David on Thursday, he faced a perverse consequence: Saudi Arabia and many of the smaller Arab states are now vowing to match whatever nuclear enrichment capability Iran is permitted to retain. “We can’t sit back and be nowhere as Iran is allowed to retain much of its capability and amass its research,” one of the Arab leaders preparing to meet Mr. Obama said on Monday, declining to be named until he made his case directly to the president. Prince Turki bin Faisal, the 70-year-old former Saudi intelligence chief, has been touring the world with the same message.
A number of top Arab leaders have snubbed Obama's summit over Iran-related concerns. Smart power.