Biden Pursuing Iran Deal Even After Tehran Attacks Consulate, Threatens Trump Officials

The attack in Iraq involved at least 12 ballistic missiles. They were  launched from Iran overnight and landed near the American consulate at Erbil, Iraq.

Iran has claimed responsibility for a missile barrage that struck near a sprawling U.S. consulate complex at Irbil. Associated Press

As Iranian terrorists attack an American consulate in Iraq and threaten former American officials, the Biden administration is scrambling in what appears to be a last-ditch attempt to revive the Iran appeasement — and might even be prepared to delist Iran from its terrorist list.

The attack in Iraq involved at least 12 ballistic missiles. They were  launched from Iran overnight and landed near the American consulate at Erbil, Iraq. The State Department reported there was no damage to the consulate and no casualties, but it condemned the attack as “outrageous.” 

Yet America is declining to call off negotiations in the aftermath of the attack. “We will have to see” about the fate of the deal, the national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, told CBS this morning. 

The deputy secretary of state, Wendy Sherman, told Fox News that “we do not believe that the consulate was actually the target of the missile attack.” 

That assertion echoes Iran’s claim that it targeted Israeli “centers” at Erbil. “Nonsense,” Governor Omed Khoshnaw of Erbril told Rudaw television network. “The only official facility in the area is American.”

A New York-based reporter for the Erbil-based network, Majeed Gly, adds, “They chose to attack in the middle of the night to avoid casualties.” The unfinished American consulate building, Mr. Gly says, is a “huge,” $500 million project. “The Iranians want to send a message that unless the Americans sign the nuclear deal, they won’t be safe in Iraq.”  

Meantime, diplomats from six countries and Iran have left Vienna for consultations in their capitals about renewing the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. 

The Erbil attack coincides with the week of the birthday of Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps who was killed by America in January 2020. Tehran has long promised retaliation for Soleimani’s death, and its military is known to attach symbolic dating to attacks. 

In Washington, security was beefed up around former administration officials responsible for President Trump’s “maximum pressure” Iran policy. The State Department has reported to Congress it pays more than $2 million a month for a security detail covering a former secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, and Mr. Trump’s Iran envoy, Brian Hook.

The Washington Examiner last week reported that two IRGC operatives are plotting the assassination of a former national security adviser, John Bolton. According to that report, the administration has declined to indict the conspirators, fearing that charging them would derail the Vienna talks.

A Justice Department spokesman told the Sun that it would be “categorically false” to claim that “policy considerations,” like the Vienna talks, “would drive charging decisions.” 

Yet, while American lives are threatened and Iran brazenly targets the American consulate, Washington seems as eager as ever to renew the Iran nuclear deal. Iran’s demand to remove the IRGC from America’s list of terrorist organizations was reportedly accepted by the Vienna negotiators.

The Wall Street Journal reports this morning that to overcome the latest snag in the Vienna talks, American negotiators are considering excluding Russia from the powers endorsing the renewed deal. Moscow demands that international sanctions imposed on it for the Ukraine invasion be specifically excluded and that the deal authorize transactions between Russia and Iran. 

Because the Senate never ratified the JCPOA, Mr. Trump had no trouble in 2018 when he exited the deal. President Obama bypassed Congress in 2015, turning instead to the United Nations, where the Security Council passed a resolution that endorsed the deal.

That resolution gives the nuclear deal a veneer of legality under international law. If Russia were to be excluded from the renewed deal, Moscow could well veto any Council attempt to endorse it, stripping the new deal of any semblance of legal authority. 

Iran’s claim that it struck Israeli targets at Erbil came as the Israeli Defense Forces have been on high alert after Tehran vowed to retaliate against IDF attacks on Iranian and Hezbollah bases in Syria. In one such attack last Monday two high-ranking officers, Colonels Ehsan Karbalaipour and Morteza Saeidnejad of the IRGC, were killed. 

The Erbil attack is far from the first aimed at American targets in Iraq. In July 2021, Iran-affiliated militia attacked the American base at Ain al-Asad and two rockets hit near the American embassy at Baghdad Green Zone. Iraqi sources say, however, that Tehran had communicated its intent to conduct those earlier attacks.

While informed Iraqi politicians didn’t green-light those attacks, they at least knew about them in advance. Tonight’s Erbil attack, in contrast, came as a complete surprise for Baghdad, leading to wide condemnations from top politicians.

A leader of the country’s largest Shiite faction, Muqtada al Sadr, and a top Kurdish politician, Massoud Barzani, issued a statement calling to investigate what they said was a “pretext of the existence of Israeli headquarters in Erbil, which has been used as an excuse for the attack.”

The New York Sun

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