Commentary Magazine

Anything for the Ayatollah

AP Photo/Vahid Salemi,File

The full history of the Obama administration’s nuclear dealings with Iran has yet to be written, not least because many of the details remain shrouded in secrecy. The bits of the story that do seep out into the public sphere invariably reinforce a single theme: that of Barack Obama’s utter abjection and pusillanimity before Tehran, and his corresponding contempt for the American people and their elected representatives.

Wednesday’s bombshell Associated Press scoop detailing the Obama administration’s secret effort to help Tehran gain access to the American financial system was a case study. In the months after Iran and the great powers led by the U.S. agreed on the nuclear deal, the Obama Treasury Department issued a special license that would have permitted the Tehran regime to convert some $6 billion in assets held in Omani rials into U.S. dollars before eventually trading them for euros. That middle step—the conversion from Omani to American currency—would have violated sanctions that remained in place even after the nuclear accord.

That’s according to the AP’s Josh Lederman and Matthew Lee, citing a newly released report from the GOP-led Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. Lederman and Lee write: “The effort was unsuccessful because American banks—themselves afraid of running afoul of U.S. sanctions—declined to participate. The Obama administration approached two U.S. banks to facilitate the conversion . . . but both refused, citing the reputational risk of doing business with or for Iran.”

Put another way: The Obama administration pressed American banks to sidestep rules barring Iran from the U.S. financial system, and the only reason the transaction didn’t take place was because the banks had better legal and moral sense than the Obama Treasury.

This was far from the first instance in which the Obama administration bent over backward, going far beyond the requirements of the deal, to help the Iranian regime cash in on the deal. In May 2016, then-Secretary of State John Kerry encouraged a gathering of European banking leaders in London to invest in Iran. This, even though the world’s leading anti-money laundering standards body had deemed Iran “a serious threat to the integrity of the global financial system” a few months earlier.

Kerry’s statements were at least made public. The Omani forex switcheroo, however, was not. As the AP noted, the Obama administration reassured the public and lawmakers that Tehran would “continue to be denied access to the world’s largest financial and commercial market,” i.e., the U.S., as then-Treasury Secretary Jack Lew testified before Congress in July 2015, shortly after the nuclear deal was signed. That was a lie. And it would be repeated by other Obama officials.

So much for liberals’ supposed Wilsonian commitment to “open covenants of peace, openly arrived at.” A better way to describe subterfuge and secrecy objectively aimed at enriching an enemy of the United States would be to call it—oh, what’s the word?—collusion.

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