The Islamic Republic of Iran is energetically trying to legitimize its financial sector despite a decades-long rap sheet of illicit financial activities. Since the conclusion of the nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the White House has missed numerous opportunities to issue sanctions against Iran's ongoing illicit activity. Instead, in an effort to keep Iran committed to abiding by the nuclear deal, the administration is now acting as Tehran's chamber of commerce.
Washington's bipartisan effort to hold the mullahs accountable for their awful non-nuclear behaviour -- their support to designated terrorist groups; incitement of sectarian conflict in Syria, Iraq and Yemen; and abominable human-rights violations at home -- are, in the administration's eyes, of lesser importance than the JCPOA. This explains the perceived need to financially reward the Iranian leadership for backing the atomic deal. It also explains why the administration already has broken its promises that it would only suspend or lift so-called U.S. "nuclear sanctions" while vigorously enforcing non-nuclear sanctions against the regime's malign behaviour.
Iran complains that it has not received the sanctions relief it was promised, but the administration did its job. It lifted the nuclear-related sanctions against Iran earlier this year, and kept some terrorism, missile and human rights sanctions in place. But now the Iranians want all sanctions lifted.
President Obama, fearful that Iranian president Hassan Rouhani and the nuclear deal he negotiated might not survive the next Iranian presidential election in 2017, has committed himself to Rouhani's re-election. This is an unwarranted fear: Every Iranian president since the early 1980s, including the reformist Mohammad Khatami and the firebrand Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, served two terms. Nevertheless, to help Rouhani, Obama has now decided to oppose any sanctions that limit Iranian economic growth, including those permitted under the JCPOA...