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Biden admin to throw out dozens of terrorist sanctions to restart Iran nuke deal, fmr. State Dept official says

U.S. special envoy for Iran Robert Malley (IAEA Imagebank/Flickr)
March 02, 2022

Former U.S. State Department official Gabriel Noronha claimed in a lengthy series of tweets on Wednesday that his former colleagues have grown increasingly concerned that President Joe Biden and his administration are dropping numerous terrorism-related sanctions against Iranian officials and entities in their ongoing negotiations to restart the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran.

Noronha, who worked as the special assistant for the U.S. Senate Armed Service committee before working as the special advisor for the State Department’s Iran Action Group during the Trump administration, said his former colleagues still in the department have become so worried about the concessions, they’ve asked him to start sharing their concerns from behind the scenes.

“NEW: My former career @StateDept, [National Security Council], and [European Union] colleagues are so concerned with the concessions being made by [lead U.S. Special Envoy for Iran Rob Malley] in Vienna that they’ve allowed me to publish some details of the coming deal in the hopes that Congress will act to stop the capitulation. [Long thread],” Noronha began his tweets.

“’What’s happening in Vienna is a total disaster’ one warned. The entire negotiations have been filtered and ‘essentially run’ by Russian diplomat Mikhail Ulyanov,” Noronha continued. “The concessions and other misguided policies have led three members of the U.S. negotiating team to leave.”

In January, the Wall Street Journal reported three U.S. negotiators involved in Iran talks, including deputy special envoy for Iran Richard Nephew, had quit the team after urging a tougher approach with Iran.

“Led by Rob Malley, the U.S. has promised to lift sanctions on some of the regime’s worst terrorists and torturers, leading officials in the regime’s WMD infrastructure, and is currently trying to lift sanctions on the IRGC itself,” Noronha’s thread continued. “Let’s dive in.”

“First, Biden’s team is preparing to rescind the Supreme Leaders’ Office Executive Order (E.O. 13876) as soon as this coming Monday, and lift sanctions on nearly every one of the 112 people/entities sanctioned under it, even if they’re sanctioned under other legal authorities,” Noronha continued.

Then-President Donald Trump signed Executive Order 13876 in June 2019, which authorizes U.S. sanctions against dozens of Iranian officials and entities deemed to be promoting international terrorism or assisting with Iran’s ballistic missile program.

“We sanctioned some of the worst people you can possibly imagine under this authority, like Mohsen Rezaei, who was involved in the 1994 AMIA bombing that killed 85 people in Argentina,” Noronha added. “He’ll be able to live free of sanctions next week if Malley proceeds.”

Noronha said removing E.O. 13876 would also lift sanctions imposed against Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Brig. Gen. Hossein Dehghan, “Who led IRGC forces in Lebanon and Syria when Hezbollah bombed the Marine compound in Beirut and killed 241 U.S. servicemembers in 1983,” and Ali Akbar Velayati, a senior advisor to Supreme Leader Khamenei who was one of the “ideological masterminds” behind the 1994 AMIA bombing.

“This would also lift sanctions on Khamenei’s personal slush funds known as ‘bonyads,’ including Astan Quds Razavi and Execution of Imam Khomeini’s Order, which confiscated houses and billions from political dissidents and religious minorities to enrich Khamenei and his goons,” Noronha continued.

“Sanctions also to be lifted on Bonyad Mostazafan, a massive conglomerate that systematically confiscated property from Jews and Bahai’s after 1979.” Notonha said. “It is enmeshed with the IRGC and is a corruption network used to enrich top Iranian terrorists.”

“It’s important to note that the Supreme Leaders Office EO was not at all related to Iran’s nuclear program, and the removal of these sanctions under a so-called nuclear deal is a ridiculous farce,” Noronha’s thread continued. “The State Department’s lawyers know better but were forced into this by Malley. Our lawyers were clear when we released this EO: it was a response to actions by Iran & its proxies to destabilize the Middle East, promote international terrorism, advance Iran’s ballistic missile program, & Iran’s attack against U.S. military assets + civilian vehicles.”

Noronha went on to say that Malley’s negotiations would also allow for the lifting of U.S. sanctions on up to 40 financial entities that serve the Iranian government, including financial arms that fund the Basij Resistance Force, which the U.S. Treasury has assessed recruits child soldiers to fight in combat.

“These sanctions are also not related to Iran’s nuclear program, but we’re about to lift sanctions on them anyways. These are not ‘inconsistent with the JCPOA’ as [Secretary of State Antony Blinken] and Malley claim – they targeted the institutions that kill thousands of innocent Iranians and Arabs,” Noronha said. “More: Every individual and entity that was de-sanctioned under the JCPOA’s Annex II Attachment 3 will have all sanctions stripped again, EVEN THOUGH close to 100 of them were later sanctioned for terrorism, human rights violations, and participation in Iran’s WMD activities.”

Noronha also said Malley is proposing lifting sanctions on the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) and National Development Fund (NDF), which were sanctioned for funding the IRGC and Hezbollah.

“The CBI and NDF were sanctioned after Iran brazenly attacked Saudi Arabia in September 2019 in the attacks on Saudi Aramco in an act of war. Again, these sanctions are not related to Iran’s nuclear program – they are about terrorism.”

Noronha noted other Iranian entities that have funded Iran’s IRGC and Quds Force, which he said is “responsible for killing hundreds of thousands of Syrians and for the death of at least 603 Americans in Iraq from 2003-2011.”

Noronha said rescinding such terrorism-related sanctions is actually “illegal” because sanctioned entities typically have to prove they aren’t supporting terrorism for those sanctions to be lifted.

Noronha also said State Department lawyers are “working on ‘very creative’ ways” to bypass Congressional review of the Biden administration’s negotiations.

Noronha also said that for all of the alleged concessions by Malley, the U.S. isn’t getting any concessions in return from Iran. He noted there are no extensions to the terms in the original 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which are already approaching their expiration dates. Noronha said Iran is also not conceding on its ballistic missile program or its support for international terrorism.

Noronha concluded his Twitter thread by saying the lifting of these Iranian sanctions would immediately create an approximately $90 billion windfall for Iran and then another $50-55 billion in annual revenue for Iran.

Noronha also said that the way Malley is negotiating with Iran would allow sanctioned Iranian entities to quickly repatriate tens of billions of dollars in frozen funds before Congress could even review or vote to approve the deal.