U.S. Gesture to Iran Undermined Its Own Counterproliferation Efforts

(Politico) Josh Meyer - According to a Politico investigation, the White House derailed its own much-touted National Counterproliferation Initiative at a time when it was making unprecedented headway in thwarting Iran's proliferation networks, when President Obama released as a "one-time gesture" Iranian-born prisoners who "were not charged with terrorism or any violent offenses" last year. Three of the men were part of an illegal procurement network supplying Iran with U.S.-made microelectronics with applications in surface-to-air and cruise missiles. Another was serving an eight-year sentence for conspiring to supply Iran with satellite technology and hardware. At the same time, in a series of unpublicized court filings, the Justice Department dropped charges and international arrest warrants against 14 other men for similar activities. When federal prosecutors and agents learned the true extent of the releases, many were shocked and angry. Some had spent years, if not decades, working to penetrate the global proliferation networks that allowed Iranian arms traders to obtain crucial materials for Tehran's illicit nuclear and ballistic missile programs. In addition, Justice and State Department officials denied or delayed requests from prosecutors and agents to lure key Iranian fugitives to friendly countries so they could be arrested. Similarly, Justice and State, at times in consultation with the White House, slowed down efforts to extradite some suspects already in custody overseas. Valerie Lincy, executive director of the nonpartisan Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control, said, "This is a scandal. The cases bear all the hallmarks of exactly the kinds of national security threats we're still going after." Those investigations were providing U.S. officials with a roadmap of how, exactly, Tehran was clandestinely building its nuclear and ballistic missile programs, and were providing key operational details of how the Iranian procurement networks operate.

2017-04-25 00:00:00

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