CHARLOTTE, N.C., Oct. 18, 2015 – In an article published Friday by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) two senior Iranian negotiators say Barack Obama will announce the “lifting” of sanctions against Iran on Monday rather than the “suspension” of sanctions.
MEMRI emphasized that a statement by Al Akbar Salehi, head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran and one of the architects of the nuclear agreement between Iran and the West, along with Beherouz Kamalyandi, the spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, had not been verified by any Western or American source when they posted their information. Furthermore, the story has received little or no attention by other media outlets, indicating that the report could likely be without substance.
The difference in the meaning of the agreement is drastically altered by simply swapping the word “lifting” to replace “suspension.” Should Obama proceed with the announcement that sanctions are “lifted,” it will mean that any violations of the nuclear agreement by Iran will not allow the “automatic reimposing,” or “snapback,” of sanctions that the administration has insisted are a key facet of the deal.
“Controversy” does not even begin to describe the firestorm of debate that will ensue if MEMRI’s sources are accurate. The Iranian nuclear agreement has been a major issue since Secretary of State John Kerry and other Western negotiators agreed to the plan in July. Israel is by far the biggest opponent of the pact for obvious reasons.
Should Obama proceed with the “lifting” of sanctions, his promise of having a security mechanism for restoring sanctions if violations occur will be broken and that aspect of the agreement will be invalidated.
If MEMRI is correct, it will represent a significant journalistic oversight by the failure to report a story of major importance, not only to the United States but to the entire world.
By the same token, if the report is false, it will demonstrate the difficulty the media has in obtaining credible information regarding issues with grave international concerns.
The validity question has many layers beyond the sanctions themselves. Should the president announce the “lifting” of sanctions, his judgment in matters of foreign policy will again face intense scrutiny about his allegiances to Islamic countries versus our friendship with Israel.
It is matters such as these that raise questions about Obama’s leadership and the rationale for his decisions. Many, if not most, of the president’s resolutions appear to be unilateral without regard for input from other sources or advisers. It is this attitude that has created the prevailing mistrust of Obama by vast numbers of Americans.
Many pundits opine about “Obama’s legacy” as though it is something that concerns the president. For veteran journalists, a legacy was certainly of primary interest to those who preceded Obama. The president, however, seems to have little regard for what future historians will say about him so long as he accomplishes his personal agenda during his allotted time in office. In that sense, Barack Obama is unlike any previous occupant of the White House.
Come Monday, it will be interesting to see whether the MEMRI report becomes “breaking news” or nothing more than “broken news.”
Bob Taylor has been traveling the world for more than 30 years as a writer and award-winning television producer focusing on international events, people and cultures around the globe.
Taylor is founder of the Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
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