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Saturday 29 October 2016
Every administration bends over backwards to defend its legacy, but the State Department today took that prerogative to a new and dangerous level.
When questioned about the Syrian government’s continued use of chemical weapons despite Secretary of State John Kerry’s deal for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to turnover such weaponry, a Deputy State Department spokesman insisted that Assad’s continued use of weaponry he was supposed to hand over does not suggest the deal was unsuccessful. “The deal that we worked out and successfully implemented with the Russians was [for] declared chemical weapons,” he said.
The good faith effort to curtail Syrian chemical weapons use without resorting to military force as per President Obama’s original red line has not worked. Rather than acknowledge this, Kerry and crew are doubling down on the notion that their diplomacy has worked since Assad’s regime has not used any chemical weapons it had declared; it only used the chemical weapons which it had hidden.
Consider the implications of that:
President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry have repeatedly insisted that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action has been an unquestioned success because it has curtailed all Iranian pathways to a nuclear bomb. Critics of the deal, however, have repeatedly pointed out that the problem was never the declared components of Iran’s program on which the White House has focused, but rather the undeclared components of that program.
One of the most controversial Kerry decisions that came to light in the aftermath of the deal was acquiescing to a change in the nature and scope of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reporting that effectively let Iran off the hook in explaining the Potential Military Dimensions of its program.
Back to today’s press conference: If Assad has not violated the deal he worked out with Russian mediation to curtail his chemical weapons use because he simply kept some material off the books, does that mean that the Obama administration will argue that Iranian cheating is not actually cheating if it occurred on aspects of its nuclear program on which it never came clean? Obama and Kerry might dismiss that notion, but it’s an easy bet that the Iranian leadership will not.