Tags: regime | iran | nuclear | finance | terrorism

Iran Seeks to Join World Order, But Undermines It

Iran Seeks to Join World Order, But Undermines It
Protestors outlined against the Iranian flag shout slogans during a rally to demand the release of political prisoners in Iran as part of a 'Global day of action' in front of the Iranian embassy on July 25, 2009, in Rome. (Tiziana Fabi/AFP/Getty Images)

Monday, 26 February 2018 01:50 PM Current | Bio | Archive

If you are a fan of unintentional comedy, I recommend checking out the Financial Action Task Force. This is the global organization of big banks and government agencies dedicated to combating money laundering and terrorism finance.

This week it met in Paris to discuss, among other things, whether or not Iran’s banking system should receive a clean bill of health.

The joke writes itself. The U.S. Treasury Department has spent more than 20 years tracing how Iran’s banks are used by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, or IRGC, to finance terror groups. As National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster told a conference in Munich this week: “When you invest in Iran, you’re investing in the IRGC. You might as well cut the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps a check and say, ‘Please use this to commit more murder across the Middle East.’ ”

And yet, the world body dedicated to stopping the finance of terrorism punted. In the dry prose of bureaucrats, it called on Iran to “fully address its remaining action items.” This includes a loophole in a law pending before Iran’s parliament to address the state’s financing of terrorism. There is an exemption for groups “attempting to end foreign occupation, colonialism and racism.” And yet, the door remains open if the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism could just address some of these technical details.

All of this illustrates the problem with integrating states like Iran into the world order. Government envoys and ministers can be quite sensible one-on-one, but get a bunch of them in a room under the imprimatur of the “international community” and nonsense ensues. This is particularly true when it comes to Iran after the 2015 nuclear deal.

Consider an Interpol conference last July in Tehran. Law-enforcement experts from Central and South Asia met to discuss “Project Kalkan,” a new early-warning system to share terrorist information to prevent future attacks. What’s next, a prison-reform summit in Pyongyang?

The most egregious violator in this regard has long been the United Nations Human Rights Council. Next week, for its annual meeting, Iran’s delegation will include the country’s justice minister, Alireza Avaie. He is an Iranian Torquemada. As a prosecutor, he is alleged to have overseen the torture and arbitrary detention of activists from the Green Movement. As a younger man, he was the prosecutor who sentenced thousands of members of the anti-regime group People’s Mujahedin to the gallows in 1988, during one of the regime’s many purges. The European Union imposed a travel ban and sanctions on Avaie in 2011. And yet he is due to arrive in Geneva next week to participate in an international conference on human rights.

All of these examples rightly cry out for mockery. But there are serious implications as well. One of the many downsides of the 2015 nuclear deal is that it raised expectations for the Iranian regime that it could rejoin the international community for a temporary suspension of its nuclear program. Just listen to Iran’s foreign minister, Javad Zarif, explain away all of Iran’s misdeeds and predations to get a flavor of this.

The problem is that the nuclear deal was narrow. It promised the lifting of severe nuclear sanctions in exchange for Iran allowing access to some of its sites for inspection and removing most of its stockpile of low-enriched uranium. Big banks and corporations, though, are still are wary of investing in Iran.

This bothers Iran’s diplomats. Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi threatened this week that Iran may withdraw from the 2015 deal if major banks continue to shun its economy. How unfair! A regime that routinely arrests dual nationals on trumped-up charges, allows its banks to finance terror, and elevates tormentors of its citizens to high office is being singled out.

I realize this must be a real dilemma for Araqchi and other regime officials. But there is no need to overcomplicate the matter: If Iran wants be treated like a normal country, its leaders should stop acting like a bunch of terrorists.

Eli Lake is a Bloomberg View columnist. He was the senior national security correspondent for the Daily Beast and covered national security and intelligence for the Washington Times, the New York Sun, and UPI. To read more of his reports, Go Here Now.

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I realize this must be a real dilemma for Araqchi and other regime officials. But there is no need to overcomplicate the matter: If Iran wants be treated like a normal country, its leaders should stop acting like a bunch of terrorists.
regime, iran, nuclear, finance, terrorism
Monday, 26 February 2018 01:50 PM
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