On Sunday, Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew, believed to be a religious Jew, was heckled by the audience at a Jerusalem Post conference when he defended the actions of the Obama administration vis-à-vis Iran over its nuclear program.
Lew insisted that the reduced economic sanctions against Iran would be reintroduced if Iran reneges on its promises. He intoned:
This snapback mechanism will give us crucial leverage to ensure that Iran remains in compliance for years after any agreement is reached. If we reach an agreement and Iran ends up flouting its obligations, we will know, and we will have preserved all our options–including economic and military measures–to make sure that Iran can never acquire a nuclear weapon.
Lew weakly insisted, “We are still developing the exact mechanisms by which sanctions stemming from United Nations Security Council resolutions would be re-imposed.”
Ignoring the repeated leaks by the Obama administration to scuttle an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities, Lew asserted that “no administration has done more for Israel’s security than this one,” prompting the audience to jeer him. Undaunted, Lee added, “Make no mistake, we are not operating on an assumption that Iran will act in good faith. This deal will only be finalized if the connective tissue of the agreement meets a tough standard of intense verification and scrutiny.”
Lew prompted anger during his remarks:
To be clear, to be clear, sanctions were always a means to an end. They were designed to bring Iran’s leaders to the table to negotiate a serious agreement on its nuclear program. And while we will not know until the process is completed whether there will be an agreement, there is no doubt that our sanctions worked to bring Iran to the table prepared to make serious concessions. Following months of hard bargaining and tough negotiations, we struck an interim understanding with Iran in November of 2013. In accordance with that arrangement, Tehran froze and rolled back parts of its nuclear program while we continued to negotiate on a longer-term deal. (See note 1.) At that time, at that time, some denounced the interim understanding known as a joint plan of action. Some said Iran would cheat (See note 2.), that our sanctions would fall apart (See note 3.), and that this program would allow Iran to move closer to acquiring a nuclear weapon. (See note 4.)
A member of the audience shouted, “Court Jew! You’re a court Jew!”
Lew continued, “But none of that came to pass. Iran remains under enormous economic pressure. It has halted and scaled back key elements of its nuclear program, and we have gained unprecedented insight into Iran’s nuclear activities.”
After the moderator pleaded, “Ladies and gentlemen, please let Secretary Lew speak. This is very disrespectful,” prompting applause, Lew concluded, “I would only ask that you listen to me as we listen to you.”
The notes are as follows:
Note 1: In April, Iran boasted it would start using its most advanced centrifuges as soon as the final nuclear deal with the West took effect, according to the Iranian semi-official news agency FARS.
Note 2: After Obama said that if Iran cheated the world would know it, Paula DeSutter, assistant secretary of state for verification, compliance, and implementation from 2002 to 2009, said bluntly, “The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action will not be effectively verifiable.” At the end of May, even the Islamist-friendly UN acknowledged that Iran was already cheating, increasing its nuclear weapon fuel by 20% in eighteen months and an incredible 8% in the latest two months.
Note 3: Obama began lifting sanctions against Iran even before the November 2013 negotiations. According to the Daily Beast, “The Obama administration began softening sanctions on Iran after the election of Iran’s new president in June, months before the current round of nuclear talks in Geneva or the historic phone call between the two leaders in September.”
Note 4: Obama himself acknowledged in April that the nuclear deal could leave Iran closer to a nuclear bomb.