John Kerry uses ‘shadow diplomacy’ to keep Iran nuclear deal alive — and he may have broken the law

John Kerry uses ‘shadow diplomacy’ to keep Iran nuclear deal alive — and he may have broken the law
Former Secretary of State John Kerry has been quietly working to keep the Iran nuclear deal in place, even meeting with Iran's foreign minister. His actions may have violated the law. (Zach Gibson/Getty Images)

Former Secretary of State John Kerry has reportedly been using diplomatic backchannels to communicate with Iranian officials in order to keep former President Barack Obama’s infamous Iran nuclear deal on life support.

And he may have broken the law in the process.

What are the details?

In what the Boston Globe described as “shadow diplomacy,” the newspaper broke the news Friday that Kerry — more than a year after leaving office as the top U.S. diplomat — is actively working to keep Obama’s Iran deal in place.

Kerry, one of the top architects of the deal, reportedly met with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif in New York City two weeks ago to discuss the agreement’s preservation. He also met with several European leaders, including German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and French President Emmanuel Macron, both in Paris and New York.

Kerry’s intervention comes as it appears President Donald Trump may throw out the deal in the coming days. He has until May 12 to decide whether to keep the deal, amend it or throw it out completely.

It’s not yet clear what decision Trump will make, but Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shocked the world this week when he announced Israeli agents stole tens of thousands of documents out of Iran proving the Islamic Republic has been lying about its nuclear program.

The deal supposedly put ice on Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for an end to economic sanctions.

Are Kerry’s actions legal?

Possibly. According to some experts, Kerry’s actions may constitute a violation of the Logan Act, an 18th century law that prohibits American citizens from having private discussions with foreign governments “with intent to influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government” or “to defeat the measures of the United States.”

House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) said in response to the news:

Other’s have made reference to comments then-acting Attorney General Sally Yates made last year when she said she was concerned Michael Flynn violated the Logan Act when he discussed policy with Russian diplomats during the presidential transition.

While it remains unclear if Kerry’s actions constitute a violation of the Logan Act, it’s unlikely he would ever be prosecuted if they did. No person has ever been prosecuted for violating the law.

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