A new report details how Barack Obama's administration undercut the counter-nuclear proliferation efforts of agents and prosecutors against Iran during negotiations for the Iran deal.
The report, chronicled in a lengthy Politico piece, highlights how the Justice and State Departments halted cases against various Iranian figures working to obtain the necessary materials to arm the terror regime in Tehran starting in 2014.
Obama administration officials would not give the go-ahead to allow agents and prosecutors to move forward with investigations against these figures. Consequently, a number of important individuals who were under scrutiny for being involved in Iran's nuclear proliferation ended up slipping out of the grasp of agents and prosecutors.
Additionally, the Obama administration granted clemency to seven Iranian prisoners under the auspices of being held on "sanctions-related offenses" and "violations of the trade embargo." But the Politico report notes that "some of them were accused by Obama’s own Justice Department of posing threats to national security":
Three allegedly were part of an illegal procurement network supplying Iran with U.S.-made microelectronics with applications in surface-to-air and cruise missiles like the kind Tehran test-fired recently, prompting a still-escalating exchange of threats with the Trump administration. Another was serving an eight-year sentence for conspiring to supply Iran with satellite technology and hardware. As part of the deal, U.S. officials even dropped their demand for $10 million that a jury said the aerospace engineer illegally received from Tehran.
To make matters worse, the administration also dropped cases against 14 Iranian fugitives who were being investigated for proliferating arms and material for Iran's nuclear ambitions:
Three of the fugitives allegedly sought to lease Boeing aircraft for an Iranian airline that authorities say had supported Hezbollah, the U.S.-designated terrorist organization. A fourth, Behrouz Dolatzadeh, was charged with conspiring to buy thousands of U.S.-made assault rifles and illegally import them into Iran.
A fifth, Amin Ravan, was charged with smuggling U.S. military antennas to Hong Kong and Singapore for use in Iran. U.S. authorities also believe he was part of a procurement network providing Iran with high-tech components for an especially deadly type of IED used by Shiite militias to kill hundreds of American troops in Iraq.
The biggest fish, though, was Seyed Abolfazl Shahab Jamili, who had been charged with being part of a conspiracy that from 2005 to 2012 procured thousands of parts with nuclear applications for Iran via China. That included hundreds of U.S.-made sensors for the uranium enrichment centrifuges in Iran whose progress had prompted the nuclear deal talks in the first place.
Naturally, prosecutors and agents were enraged that their painstaking, years-long work was being sabotaged by the Obama administration, allowing national security threats to escape justice, which the administration "downplayed."
"Even though these men's crimes posed a direct threat to U.S. national security, the administration has essentially told them their efforts have produced nothing more than political capital that can be traded away when politically expedient," David Locke Hall, an ex-DOJ counter-proliferation prosecutor, told Politico.
David Albright, who has conducted "decades of scientific research into Iran’s secret nuclear weapons" and is in "regular close contact with federal authorities" as a result, told Politico, "We are shooting ourselves in the foot, destroying the infrastructure that we created to enforce the laws against the Iranians."
Iran is still believed to have been continuing their illicit proliferation efforts, but agents are unable to pursue cases against them because the United States' counter-proliferation efforts are still murky, although there is some optimism that the new administration will provide "more support for their efforts."