With election season well under way, the nuclear deal with Iran has been making its way back into the spotlight, and will likely become an even bigger issue as presumptive nominees #Hillary Clinton and #Donald Trump start to lock horns. Clinton, for her part, has already laid claim to setting the ground work for the nuclear deal, while Trump has promised to “tear the deal up.”

Now, the outgoing Obama administration is coming under fire for the tactics used to push for the deal. The nuclear deal was a tough sell for both Congress and the American people. While #Obama was able to largely act unilaterally in signing the deal, this has only increased divisions and ramped up criticism. Among other allegations and criticisms, critics are beginning to take a longer look at the lobby groups that supported the administration's efforts.

Numerous Republicans, Israel, and others have been highly critical of the deal. “The bitter reality is that the notion of moderation by Rouhani as the regime’s president that was the heart of the ‘narrative’ and was pushed by the echo chamber had no basis in reality", said Shahin Gobadi, the Paris-based spokesman for the main Iranian opposition movement, the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK). Gobadi added this is one of the points to be addressed by Iranian dissidents and their international supporters in the major international gathering ‘Free Iran’, slated for Paris on July 9.

"In line with the clerical regime’s pattern in the past three decades, Tehran kept demanding marginalization of the Iranian opposition and their voice in order to prevent the policy to become reflective of the reality of the weakness and domestic isolation of the regime,” argued Gobadi. 

Lobby groups fought for Iran nuclear deal

The Iran nuclear deal was the subject of intense lobbying from both detractors and supporters. Now, questions are rising over the motives of those groups that lobbied in favor of the deal. Tehran stands to benefit tremendously from the agreement, primarily due to the rollback of once-crippling economic sanctions, as do numerous Iranian business persons and other parties.

Open borders will create lucrative trade opportunities for any company willing to do business with Iran. Given the benefits for Iran, and the amount of money to be made with trade resuming, it should come as no surprise that millions of dollars were spent by lobby groups in support of the deal (millions were also spent opposing it).

Among the many groups that the Obama administration relied on was Ploughshares, ostensibly an anti-nuclear weapons non-profit. Ploughshares has also funded the National Iranian American Council, which has long been suspected of ties to the Iranian regime. The NIAC was a vehement supporter of the nuclear deal, and spent heavily, running TV ads and pressuring Congress among other things, to see it through.

According to the Daily Beast, the NIAC also receives funded from the Namazis, a wealthy Iranian-American family that does a considerable amount of trade and business with Iran. With extended family in both Iran and America, and as savvy business and financial operators, the Namazis would gain considerably with renewed trade between Iran and the West.

To be clear, the Namazis likely were not advocating on behalf of the Iranian theocracy, but instead their own personal interest. The eldest father, Baquer, and his son Siamak, have been arrested by Iranian authorities.

Interestingly, while the Ploughshares Fund's stated goal is to fight nuclear proliferation, it also funded a number of journalists and websites which engaged in a campaign of demonizing and targeting the MEK, which was the first group to break news of Iran's nuclear weapons program in 2002.

Further, according to the Wall Street Journal and other sources, the Obama administration relied on Ploughshares, among others, to funnel money to democratic senators and other influential policy makers. This cadre of Democratic senators dismantled efforts to stop the deal.