FRANCIS BOYLE, fboyle at illinois.edu
Boyle is a professor at the University of Illinois College of Law. His books on international law include Destroying Libya and World Order.
He said today: “President Obama and others have stated that if Iran violates the agreement, the sanctions on Iran will ‘snap back’ into place. That’s true, but what’s menacing about this is what they don’t highlight: the sanctions could quite conceivably ‘snap back’ based on some bogus pretext after Iran has dismantled the guts of its nuclear industry that is lawful under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Everyone knows that Iran does not have nuclear weapons to begin with.
“Under the agreement, this current or some future U.S. administration would only need the votes of the European powers to enact such a scenario since decisions will be made by the majority of a group that includes not only Iran, China, Russia, France and the UK, but also Germany and the EU. They have in effect set up a mechanism that gets around the possibility of a Russian and/or Chinese veto.
“The UN Security Council resolution passed today states that disputes arising from the agreement will be dealt with by this panel and that ‘If the Security Council does not adopt a resolution’ then the sanctions Iran has been under ‘shall apply in the same manner as they applied before the adoption of this resolution.’ So if the U.S. vetoes action by the Security Council, the sanctions come back.
“There has been misreporting on this issue, for example rightwing outlets like CNS falsely claiming: ‘Iran Deal Includes Loophole in Sanctions “Snapback’ Mechanism.’ Meanwhile, most mainstream or liberal reporting or commentary about this has been laudatory about the way the ‘snap back’ mechanism works: ‘How the Iran Deal’s ‘Snap Back’ Mechanism Will Keep Tehran Compliant.’
“This ignores the record of the U.S. government on these issues. In the recent case of Libya, Muammar Gaddafi eliminated his nuclear equipment and then was literally stabbed in the back — NATO bombed the country, he was murdered, and there’s a failed state there now, leading to untold human suffering. At a minimum, the United States government will use the ‘snap-back’ mechanism as a cudgel to beat the Islamic Republic of Iran into ‘regime change,’ which has been its objective all along.”