VIENNA (Reuters) – It’s always awkward to defend your enemies.
But that’s the position U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration has found itself in with Iran as it pushes for an historic accord that would end a 12-year nuclear standoff.
Tehran and Washington, which have called each other the “Great Satan” and a member of the “Axis of Evil” during 36 years of hostility, are more used to exchanging insults than defending each other. The two foes cut diplomatic ties after Iranian revolutionaries seized 52 hostages in Tehran’s U.S. embassy during the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Yet for a month now the U.S. State Department has been defending Iran from suggestions that it was on the verge of violating a requirement to reduce its low-enriched uranium stockpile under a 2013 interim nuclear with major powers. […]
One senior U.S. official, who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity, acknowledged that the U.S. defense of Iranian compliance was “weird” and did not come naturally.
“Iran has done a lot of bad things in Syria and across the Middle East, and still does. It’s holding Americans hostages. But the fact is, it’s complying with the JPOA.”