President Trump last week reopened the debate on the Iranian nuclear deal with a vengeance.
While he is refraining for now from pulling the U.S. out of the deal, he is demanding Congressional legislation that would require Iran to allow immediate inspections on all sites requested by international inspectors and that would ensure the Iranians never even come close to possessing a nuclear weapon. Also, that the new provisions, unlike the current deal, not have an expiration date; that Iranian non-compliance would trigger automatic resumption of American sanctions; that the legislation explicitly state in United States law – for the first time – that long-range missile and nuclear weapons programs are inseparable; and that Iran’s development and testing of missiles should, for the first time, be subject to severe sanctions.
He went on to say that if our allies don’t go along with these changes, he will pull the U.S. out of the nuclear agreement. The points he made involved deficiencies in the agreement that Obama administration officials conceded they accepted because they thought the Iranians would otherwise pull out of the negotiations. Indeed, Iranian officials said they would reject any changes in the 2015 deal, calling their position “non-negotiable.”
But a related development could electrify the controversy. It was recently revealed that the Obama administration, in order to keep the Iranian negotiations on track, forced the closing down of a U.S. government task force – headed by the Drug Enforcement Administration and including the FBI, Homeland Security, U.S. attorneys, and other agencies – targeting a massive $1 billion a year drug smuggling ring run by Iran’s ally Hizbullah in the U.S. and abroad.
Prior to being shut down, the task force, called Operation Cassandra, worked for approximately eight years and developed many leads and gathered mountains of evidence.
Attorney General Sessions has now announced that another task force will begin operations to develop and follow through on the work of Operation Cassandra. Although the announcement is limited to building on the earlier leads and evidence, the involvement of Obama officials in derailing Operation Cassandra will inevitably become a central focus.
Some are calling the development a possible replay of the 1980s Iran-Contra scandal that involved several senior Reagan administration officials secretly facilitating the sale of weapons to Iran despite a U.S. arms embargo. Their goal was to provide funding for the Contras in Nicaragua. (The so-called Boland Amendment prohibited official funding of the Contras at the time.)
Several officials were convicted in the matter but the convictions were either overturned on appeal or vacated by presidential pardons.
There always seemed to be something disturbing about the Obama administration’s handling of the Iran nuclear deal. Maybe we’ll soon find out more than we now know.