Can We Trust How Iran Would Spend Funds from a Nuclear Deal?

(Wall Street Journal) Michael Singh - An estimated $100-140 billion in Iranian foreign exchange reserves are being held in escrow in banks overseas (primarily oil revenues that U.S. sanctions block from being repatriated to Iran). The Obama administration has argued that Iran will use the funds primarily for domestic needs. In Iran's most recent budget, funding was up 48% for the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and 40% for the Ministry of Intelligence and Security; overall defense spending rose 33%. The administration's position assumes that while Iran was willing to substantially increase security spending when sanctions were in effect, it will not do so in the wake of a deal, when economic conditions would improve. Iran is not likely to reorder its priorities. The agreement under discussion provides Iran with substantial economic relief while demanding precisely nothing from it regarding its sponsorship of terrorism and destabilizing regional behavior. Good policymaking demands that the benefit of any nuclear agreement be weighed against this cost, rather than pretending it does not exist. The writer is managing director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

2015-07-01 00:00:00

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